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New perspectives to save cultural heritage
Altan, M. Orhan

J.A.Cannataci, ^ *, R. Rivenc, N.P.Zammit, C.Borg 3 , G.Guidi b , G.A.Beraldin 2 ,
a Institute for Conservation & Restoration Studies, Malta Centre for Restoration, Royal Naval Hospital, Bighi, Kalkara,
Malta, (Joseph.cannataci@um.edu.mt)
b Dept, of Electronic Engineering, University of Firenze, Florence, Italy, (g.guidi@ieee.org)
KEY WORDS: e-heritage, documentation, imaging techniques, laser scanning, database, photogrammetry, project-management,
A number of factors are combining to change the structure and contents of documentation of cultural heritage: 1) the exponential
growth in data generated by imaging techniques makes it possible for a site or an artifact to be recorded at a resolution of over 16
megapixels and at a density of several hundred million cloud points; 2) high-resolution imaging is becoming more affordable and/or
available; 3) the economics and legal constraints of conservation practice are gradually pushing towards more stringent
documentation standards; 4) improved communications infrastructure and mobile computing facilities are changing the way that
data is recorded, processed, stored and - inevitably - used; 5) increasingly available computerized expert systems will be integrated
into the very systems that conservators and documentation specialists carry around with them or access on a daily basis; 6) the
advent of web-based systems will afford super-computer processing power and large-system database handling to the documentation
specialist and the conservator in the field and permit greater flexibility for teleworking; 7) Computerised Project-based Management
techniques will gradually spread from the realm of large institutions to SME’s and individual practitioners making digital image
processing in architecture and archaeology more akin to the exchange of engineering drawings in automobile design industry. 8)
The availability of cheap local or distributed processing power means that most of the above advantages will be present in both
developed and developing countries. This paper explores, e-heritage as an integrated project which aims at providing a seamless yet
structurally and inherently up-gradeable technological platform for -all activities within cultural heritage conservation and
1.1 From ‘e-culture’ to e-heritage’
1.1.1 “Anything, Anybody, Anytime, Anyhow, Anywhere”
has been the all-encapsulating way of defining the objectives of
proponents of “e-culture”. This notion attempts to break down
the barriers previously posed by physical distance (and
therefore geographic location) as well as time-zones or
working-hour traditions in a way which promises to
revolutionise work-patterns and methods of collaboration. The
fact that computers and Internet access are rapidly becoming
more accessible world-wide also points to a growing
democratization inherent in a technology that makes so much
more available to so many more members of society at such a
lower cost.
The last five years of the “e-anything” phenomenon, starting
with ‘e-commerce’, transiting through ‘e-money’, rapidly
building up ‘e-government’ and now culminating in ‘e-prints’,
has unfortunately tended to devalue the “e-XXX” designation.
Politicians and management gurus alike have tended to add the
prefix “e-“ to most anything that catches their fancy with the
result that already many members of the academic community
(not to mention the general public) are losing sight of the
original thrust of the e-revolution. Yet, while fast approaching
cliché status, there is no better way of defining an all-
encompassing approach than as “e-heritage”, especially if this
seeks to implement the objectives of “anything, anybody,
anytime, anyhow, anywhere” in the cultural heritage sector.
1.2 Defining objectives for e-heritage
1.2.1 The ultimate objectives of e-heritage are to enable
students, conservators, documentation specialists, museum
curators, heritage managers and members of the general public
to plug in anywhere in Europe (indeed in the world) and study
and work together in the cultural heritage sector which is
striving to preserve the common heritage of mankind. E-
heritage therefore achieves consistency in documentation at
more cost-effective levels, it helps create new educational
opportunities where these did not exist beforehand, it enables
fast, easy and cost-effective collaboration in research projects
and also resource-management on a scale previously
unthinkable. It also enables the public and the research
community to access a wealth of knowledge and information
that has lain hitherto untapped. The objectives of e-heritage
and integrated software and hardware systems in the heritage
sector are understandably very closely linked to various forms
of systems that exist or are being introduced for the purpose of
documentation/management of heritage sites and artefacts.
1.3 Technological change defines documentation standard
* Corresponding author. Dr. Joseph A. Cannataci, ICRS, Malta Centre for Restoration, joseph.cannataci@um.edu.mt