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New perspectives to save cultural heritage
Altan, M. Orhan

Paolo Ardissone (*), Fulvio Rinaudo (*)
(*) Politecnico di Torino - Dipartimento di Georisorse e Territorio
Corso Duca degli Abruzzi, 24 - 10129 Torino - Italy
Email: paolo.ardissone@polito.it, fulvio.rinaudo@polito.it
Commission V, WG V/5
KEY WORDS: GIS, Remote Sensing, Archaeological Heritage Conservation, Archaeological research, Cultural sites
The aim of the project “Landscape heritage and resource management: an integrated information system of the Marchesato di
Saluzzo”, funded by M.U.R.S.T. (Ministry of University, Scientific Research and Technology), is to verify geomatic technique
integration inside the historical and archaeological studies on the Middle Ages in the Po Valle landscape, particularly on road
networks and settlements dynamics between the X and XIV centuries. The ultimate objective of this research is to create an
instrument, not only for historical and archaeological researchers, but also for the conservation and the valorisation of the Po Valley.
The used method is based on the archives and bibliography analysis in order to extract all the available information on “material
structures” such as castles, churches, settlements, roads in the Middle Ages. Subsequently, a field survey performed in order to locate
these structures and to identify which ones have disappeared and which ones still remain has been carried out. All the preserved parts
of the identified buildings have been analysed by means of archaeological methods. All the data have been recorded and organised in
a database structure strictly integrated in a geographic information system in which also most of the available data of the Valle Po
area (e.g. technical, thematic, and deriving from geological and botanical research) have been collected and stored following the
same criteria.
The merging of all the collected information allow one to perform complex queries and spatial analysis of the data and to underline
interesting areas where it is possible to carry out deeper investigation in order to discover underground ruins.
The overall goal of this research project has been to study
settlement development and the use of land underwent
between X and XIV centuries in the Po Valley. In this period
there was a transformation process of the settlement network.
This process not only occurred in the Po Valley area, but also
in many other north-west Italy areas. The phenomenon of the
settlement distribution on the land and the territorial layout, is
closely connected to actual morphological configuration.
In the last three years our research work aimed to create a
G.I.S. in order to integrate different thematic data such as
those coming from archaeology, geology, botany and cultural
anthropology on a multi-scale cartography (from 1:250.000
to 1:1000) and high resolution satellite images. The geo-
referencing of such various data will help a correct and
affordable interpretation of the data themselves.
This interdisciplinary approach is a successful way to
understand and completely know how environmental
exploitation of resources influences dynamic settlements in
those centuries. It is very important, for this kind of research,
to characterize the environmental context where settlements
were located. The historical documentation and the merging
of the different analysis conducted by the other involved
specialists allowed the individuation of roads and structures
not visible today but well documented in the past. The G.I.S.
approach has allowed the hypothetical location of those
objects in such a probable area where deeper investigations
(photo-interpretation, multi-spectral analysis and geophysical
investigation) can confirm or at least restrict the probable
location area of the searched objects.
The paper describes the standard functionalities implemented
in the G.I.S. in order:
■ to facilitate the collection of the multi-disciplinary
information coming from the different studies
performed by the specialists;
■ to allow the merging of the acquired information;
■ to perform spatial analysis and complex queries of
the database.
The census of all the data concerning the existence and the
characteristics of ancient villages, churches, castles and other
evidence such as road networks, mines, quarries or
metallurgical sites has been performed by a detailed reading
of all the historical documentation. The area selected as the
large studying area was the “Marchesato di Saluzzo” located
in the southern part of the Piedmont region (North-West
The first achieved results showed that a sub-area can be of
particular interest in order to test a complete study: the Po
Valley (see fig. 1). Two very particular collections of
documents, the “cartario” of the Staffarda abbey and the
“cartario” of the Rifreddo monastery have been completely
analysed. This kind of collections are extremely important:
they were written by the monks in order to control and
manage the economic and religious life in the area.
The papers are about investitures, deeds of gift, sales
contracts or other kind of agreements, so, examining them,
we can collect many information about landscape
organization between XI and XIII century.