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New perspectives to save cultural heritage
Altan, M. Orhan

CIPA 2003 XIX th International Symposium, 30 September - 04 October, 2003, Antalya, Turkey
The project that began as a rather narrow research project in
1997 has continued and developed in several new directions.
During the course of the site survey new techniques were
used and constantly evaluated along with the more traditional
surveying methods. As the GIS became increasingly
integrated into the project, the goals of the survey were
reassessed and the data collection methods were reformed
both theoretically and practically. Among the final goals of
the project was the presentation of the data in a GIS. In the
future we anticipate that all data we have collected,
including historical, geodetic and architectural data will be
visualized in the 3D GIS application of the project. One of
the major benefits of our decision to use a GIS in our
project was that it forced team members from various
disciplines to have more intensive interaction and, as a result,
a better understanding of the diverse needs and research
results reached by all members of the project. Finally,
because the use of GIS for cultural heritage projects is
relatively new in Turkey, a final but not insignificant benefit
of our research has been that all project members have
become more familiar with this new tool and the growing
field of data management of heritage documentation.
Essential to the success of any cultural heritage project is
effective communication among all members of the team
concerning the various goals and types of data collected
during the process of surveying and documentation. Of equal
importance is the ease with which specialists in different
fields can use and interpret the collected data. Increasingly,
successful and qualified cultural heritage documentation and
management projects require newly developed technology to
collect and process data. Particularly as GIS becomes more
commonly used for data storing, organization, retrieving and
inquiry in cultural heritage projects, the ability of specialists
from diverse disciplines to communicate research needs and
results becomes more important for project effectiveness.
Closing the “information gap“ is an essential aim. The
members of a survey team who are involved in the research
of historical data should be trained in a variety of disciplines:
art and architectural history, cultural history, archaeology,
geography, oral history, etc. Members of this team need to
work closely with project members on generating the
conceptual model, structure and database of the desired GIS
application and ideally become familiar with GIS
management so that the initial queries are drawing upon
meaningful data. Ultimately, the dialogue between project
members must be able to move beyond the project itself and
present the results in an accessible and comprehensible
format to the specialist and non-specialist audiences such as
heritage administrators, experts, grant agencies,
preservationists, and educators via a project web site
transmitted over the world wide web . The main disciplines
represented in our documentation and survey project for the
Ottoman fortresses are art history, art and architectural
history, archaeology, architecture and geodesy. Once the
various methodologies of these different disciplines were
coordinated and accommodated to the GIS , other more
pragmatic aspects of the project must also be resolved. The
availability of funds is of course an important element in the
shaping of project goals and the additional “ start-up” cost in
terms of time and resources for GIS implementation must be
accounted for along with other project costs. The project’s
aim, the survey system and the situation of the site directly
shape the project organization. Inevitably the available
financial resources, documentation expertise and the needs of
the client, particularly if the project is conducted in the
private sector, are all aspects which reform and reshape the
aim and the expected research result. With the complex
structure of documentation that a GIS provides, the feasibility
of various inputs must be assessed, ideally at the beginning of
the project. (Boehler, 2003; Architectural Heritage:
Inventory and Documentation Methods in Europe, 1993)
To date, heritage documentation projects in Turkey have
been conducted by governments and academicians. Recently
with the new systems and more sophisticated technology that
has become available for surveys and architectural
documentation, both the traditional survey process and the
digital data collection are being evaluated. But it is not just
the viability of the newer technology and data systems which
needs to be assessed by scholars undertaking survey projects
in Turkey. Additionally the methodological approach that is
being used in cultural heritage documentation projects must
also be debated and developed so that an appropriate
approach can be used for projects and for the particular
conditions prevalent in Turkey.
In the “Seddiilbahir and Kumkale Survey and Architectural
Documentation Project”, the methodology and the
documentation approaches developed throughout the course
of the project and as a result of trial and error
experimentation. The three components of heritage
documentation used in this project are explained below.
In any documentation and survey project the basic
components of information are gathered either in the field or
in archival houses, including libraries. The processes for
gathering data from these different locals requires, in the
initial phase of the project, close coordination and constant
communication between project members. In addition to
sharing research findings, the nature of different types of
information must be understood. For example, topographical
data gathered in the field has a quantifiable aspect to it that
data collected from historical archives often does not possess.
Historical information gathered in archives is subject to a
much more subjective level of interpretation when compared
to the physical data gathered in a site survey. Further,
historical data is subject to multiple interpretations when
compared to data collected during a physical survey.
Fieldwork where oral history research has been conducted
brings an additional set of challenges to the organization and
structure of an historical documentation project. Ideally, all
members of a project should have the opportunity to work in
each facet of the project to facilitate communication among
team members, but too often time and financial constraints
are major factors which create a structure for a project and
members are allowed to work only in areas where they have
expertise. Initially, this if efficient, but ultimately, when we
consider the use and application of data and research, the
limited use of project members in their specialized areas
reduces the impact that the research can make.
An essential part of the historical documentation process is
extensive research of archives and libraries for historical
records of an existing site or structure. Historical