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New perspectives to save cultural heritage
Altan, M. Orhan

CIP A 2003 XIX th International Symposium, 30 September - 04 October, 2003, Antalya, Turkey
2.2 e-heritage - critical mass is the way forward
2.2.1 The e-heritage vision of “anybody, anything, anytime,
anyhow” is therefore far from being achieved. Instead we have
witnessed an under-funded, fragmented effort by a handful of
organisations in a number of countries. This will clearly not
deliver the promise of e-heritage. If not, then what will?
2.2.2 It is proposed that e-heritage be converted from a
vision into a concrete project, a collaborative effort that will
produce deliverables. The detailed organisation of this project
is the subject of a separate paper but, broadly speaking: e-heritage attempts to bring together enough
leading institutions in the field of cultural heritage to provide
the critical mass necessary to succeed together in those areas
where any single member would find it impossible to achieve
alone. e-heritage also builds upon successful national
and European pilot projects to further increase critical mass and
the level of networking within the cultural heritage sector. The
e-heritage project must be examined in a context of a highly
fragmented European scenario where each country has only one
(or never more than a handful) of hopelessly under-funded
institutions which alone simply cannot arrest the ravages of
time on historical sites and artefacts. Put simply, in unity there is strength, and e-
heritage has a better chance of being achieved through the
efforts of a consortium of organisations across a number of
countries rather than through the efforts of any single entity
acting in isolation. The Malta Centre for Restoration (MCR) is
providing the home-base for, and has embarked upon the
creation of, a consortium which has as its main aim, making e-
heritage a reality.
3.1 E-learning within e-heritage
3.1.1 Small (and sometimes even large) European countries
have often proven incapable of organizing undergraduate and
especially post-graduate education in applied conservation of
cultural heritage. Eg. A Masters degree in conservation science
(diagnostics) is an expensive option both for students as well as
for institutions.
3.1.2 Experts in the field capable of teaching are hard to find
and often difficult to group within a single institution.
3.1.3 Imagine instead a network of institutions all linked
together using satellite-enabled video-conferencing (SEVC) or
(where-available) TBVC (Terrestrial Broadband Video-
Conferencing). The broadband service thus made immediately
available permits the e-heritage project to combine SEVC.
TBVC and e-learning techniques via internet to create a virtual
classroom where the best teachers from different institutions
can offer their own specialisms to students spread across a
number of other students in the network who otherwise would
never had the opportunity to access such a first-class education.
3.2 New forms of collaboration for research projects
3.2.1 Once connected via a common infrastructure,
researchers in different institutions participating in e-heritage
can come together to work in a multitude of research projects.
Networking across Europe, say co-developing a new protective
coating for metals or stone, becomes as easy as walking down
the corridor of one’s home institution towards the SEVC-
equipped room and meeting one’s co-researchers in a multi
way video-conference. Research Working Group Meetings
become more regular, cheaper and more productive.
3.2.2 Once integrated into a single virtual community,
institutions within the e-heritage network can work together to
design and produce databases replete with text, 2D and 3D
images of heritage sites and artifacts. The databases will
incorporate innovative criteria such as didactic value and risk
assessment while recording and monitoring the success or
otherwise of a variety of intervention techniques. Thus
conservator-restorers in a variety of institutions can tap into a
wealth of knowledge hitherto unavailable.
3.3 Resource management across national boundaries
3.3.1 The broadband network available will also enable
instant access to these databases and permit hitherto impossible
resource management.
3.3.2 One or more institutions will be able to set up
expensive 1CT data processing resources and put them at the
disposal of all members of the e-heritage network. This would
greatly reduce the need for investment in multi-user hardware
and software in most participating institutions.
3.3.3 Once set-up, these databases would also be web-
enabled with a multi-tiered structure that would permit both
institutional workers, SMEs and conservator-restorers working
as sole practitioners to log in anywhere, on site or at home to
document their projects or carry out research on successful
intervention techniques.
3.3.4 Heritage workers in different countries face similar
problems when it comes to documentation of cultural heritage
sites and artifacts. The e-heritage network will permit
unprecedented resource-management across the whole
consortium: Advanced 3D imaging techniques today depend
on expensive (Euro 300,000) data acquisition equipment which
is used for 15% of a project’s requirements and then relatively
inexpensive PC technology for the post-processing that makes
up 85% of the documentation project’s needs. The e-heritage network will permit the know
how transfer and expensive data acquisition technology to be
shared by many institutions in many countries and the labour-
intensive post-processing to be farmed out to such spare
capacity as may exist amongst participating institutions and