Detection and Documentation of the Great Wall of Gorgan
by dr. Abbass Malian
The Great Wall of Gorgan or the Red Snake (which owes its name to its red color bricks), is a historical wall that extends from the Caspian Sea to the top of the Alborz Mountains. Almost all of this wall is now gone, leaving only small parts of it buried underground. The Great Wall of Gorgan, with a length of about 200 km, the construction of which took more than 90 years, is the longest historical monument in Iran and the largest defensive wall in the world after the Great Wall of China. The historical wall of Gorgan dates back to the Sassanid period. Archaeologists have dated it to the 5th century AD.
Faculty of architecture and urbanism of Ferdowsi University of Mashhad organized an international camp for documentation of a modern architectural heritage in Iran, with collaboration of DOCOMOMO Iran (international committee for documentation and conservation of buildings, sites and neighborhoods of the modern movement), petroleum museums and documents center of Iran, and CIPA (international scientific committee for documentation of cultural heritage) inaugurated on 26th October 2020 and continued for four consecutive days. The camp aimed at technologically conducting measurement sciences into the heritage documentation and recording discipline. The participant students in this 30 hrs workshop learned and practiced computerizing photogrammetric survey of a modern architectural heritage, historical instruments and documents and have practiced facade mapping by drone photogrammetry.
The camp scientific secretory and assistant professor of faculty of architecture and urbanism of FUM (Dr. Parsa Pahlavan), the digitalization instructor (eng. Ali Eghra), with help of two assistants and a guest instructor, formed a team that included GIS expert, architect and material scientist, conservation expert, and BIM expert. The supervision guided the students from Iran, Afghanistan and Iraq to practice production of scientifically reliable documents on their own.
The petroleum reservoir of Mashhad (built in 1920) was digitally documented by modern tools and techniques and aside, some documents and objects related to the history of petroleum transfer were scanned for the first time. The general secretary of CIPA (prof. Fulvio Rinaudo), director of DOCMOMO (Hadi Naderi) Iran and I.R. IRAN representative in CIPA (Abbass Malian) sent video messages to the final ceremony of this event.
In October 2020, the 20th ICOMOS General Assembly and Scientific Symposium would have taken place in Sydney, Australia. Unfortunately COVID-19 determined otherwise. The “ICOMOS GA2020 Marker Event” took place to acknowledge the excellent work and support of the ICOMOS organizer team. The ICOMOS 21st General Assembly and Scientific Symposium will be held on 31 August – 09 September 2023 in Sydney, Australia.
Under normal conditions, during the GA elections take place for the new ICOMOS board. Given the situation, for the first time it was held online (from December 3th-4th and December 7th-8th). CIPA Heritage Documentation is pleased to inform you that two of its former presidents were elected, i.e. Andreas Georgopoulos and Mario Santana. The latter will also take the role of Secretary General. Needless to say that we are very proud. We would like to express our sincere congratulations and wish you a very productive term!
More information can be found on the ICOMOS webpage:
CIPA Emerging Professionals have organized, moderated and presented 7 online events, gathering an international audience from more than 75 countries, with a total attendance of over 1,000 people.
Accessing Heritage Places from Home Webinar Series (supported by CIPA, ICOMOS, the National Trust for Canada and NSERC CREATE Heritage Engineering)
- Part 1- ‘Digital Tools as Opportunities to Engage Audiences and Manage Sites’ on May 7, 2020; Speakers: Juan Perez Arcas (Worldsensing SL, Spain) ‘Application of low-power wide area networks (LPWAN) in cultural heritage monitoring’, Stephen Fai & Katie Graham (CIMS, Canada) ‘Big Stories’, Elizabeth Lee (CyArk, USA) ‘Together at Home with Heritage: Virtual access to cultural heritage and community through CyArk.org’, Chris Wiebe & Michelle Duong (National Trust for Canada, Canada) ‘Heritage Places Going Digital: Current Practices, Barriers, and Opportunities’, Antonia Teresa Spanò & Giulia Sammartano (Politecnico di Torino, Italy) ‘Hybrid multiscale 3D modelling for heritage sharing purposes’; Main moderators: Rebecca Napolitano and Efstathios Adamopoulos; Welcome address: Mario Santana Quintero, Chris Wiebe; Closing remarks: Grazia Tucci; Additional organizers: Joe Kallas, Michelle Duong; Attendance: 480 from 54 countries, 807 registered; Link to video recording: https://youtu.be/Kki1Wp_LERo
- Part 2- ‘Virtual Reality: Unlocking the Potential’; Speakers: Brett Leavy (Bilbie Labs, Australia) ‘VR as Storytelling Tool for First Nations’, Sofia Pescarin (CNR ITABC, Italy) ‘Videogames to Visit Immersively Archaeological Sites: A Night in the forum’, Damiano Aiello (Università di Catania, Italy) ‘Beyond Physical Barriers: Virtual Museums as a Means for Promoting and Enhancing Cultural Heritage’, Joshua Chartrand (CIMS, Canada) ‘A Truly Virtual Parliament: Translating HBIM to VR’, Rudi Knoops (KU Leuven & Alamire Foundation, Belgium) ‘The Alamire sound labs: immersive sound in real and virtual spaces’; Main moderator: Sara Gonizzi Barsanti; Welcome address: Chris Wiebe, Mario Santana Quintero; Closing remarks: Grazia Tucci; Additional organizers: Efstathios Adamopoulos, Joe Kallas, Michelle Duong, Rebecca Napolitano; Attendance: Attendance: 200 from 44 countries, 323 registered; Link to video recording: https://youtu.be/53eJdplq-U8
- Part 3- ‘Information Systems: Protecting the Past, Securing the Future’; Speakers: Ona Vileikis (University College London, UK) ‘Information Systems for Cultural Heritage Landscapes: Experiences in Central Asia’, Gamze Dane (Eindhoven University of Technology, Netherlands) & Martina Massari (University of Bologna, Italy) ‘The Role of Information Systems for Regeneration and Optimization of Cultural Heritage Districts: EU H2020 ROCK Project’, Bijan Rouhani (University of Oxford, UK) ‘Monitoring Endangered Archaeology in the Middle East and North Africa’, Joanna Cooper (CIMS, Canada) ‘0E3D – Digital Mapping of Eastern Ontario’; Main moderator: Ona Vileikis; Welcome address: Mina Silver; Closing remarks: Mario Santana Quintero; Additional organizers: Rebecca Napolitano, Efstathios Adamopoulos, Joe Kallas, Michelle Duong, Nour Jean Matta; Attendance: 89 from 29 countries, 166 registered; Link to video recording: https://youtu.be/wfc43p71tkA
- Part 4- ‘Ethics of Heritage Recording’; Panelists: Kacey Hadick (CyArk, USA), Julie Ivanoff (CIMS, Canada), Elena Macchioni (Getty Conservation Institute, USA), William P. Megarry (Queen’s University of Belfast, UK), Emily L. Spratt (Columbia University, USA), Youmna Tabet (UNESCO, France), Yves Ubelmann (ICONEM, France); Expert commentators: Mona Hess (University of Bamberg, Germany), Andreas Georgopoulos (National Technical University of Athens, Greece), Mechtild Rössler (UNESCO World Heritage Centre, France), Alex Ya-Ning Yen (China University of Technology, Republic of China); Main moderators: Mario Santana Quintero & Michelle Duong (Carleton University); Opening remarks: Stratos Stylianidis (Aristotle University of Thessaloniki), Chris Wiebe (National Trust for Canada), Mario Santana Quintero; Closing remarks: Laurie Smith (NSERC CREATE Heritage Engineering); Moderators: Rebecca Napolitano, Efstathios Adamopoulos and Joe Kallas; Attendance: 158 from 39 countries, 314 registered; Link to video recording: https://youtu.be/ZgbsGkGXQS8
Low-Cost Techniques for Heritage Recording and Visualization
- Speakers: Christian Ouimet (Heritage Conservation Services, Canada), Efstathios Adamopoulos (Università di Torino, Italy), Arnadi Murtiyoso (National Institute of Applied Science, France), Daniel Girardeau-Montaut (Johnson & Johnson, France), Nefeli Tentoma (National Technical University, Greece-formerly); Main organizer: Efstathios Adamopoulos; Welcome address: Mario Santana Quintero; Closing remarks: Grazia Tucci; Moderators: Rebecca Napolitano, Michelle Duong and Joe Kallas; More than 200 in attendance and more than 600 Youtube video views; Link to video recording: https://youtu.be/P_sSX0KDYek
Present your PhD Thesis Short Webinar Series
- Part 1- Arnadi Murtiyoso (INSA Strasbourg, France) presenting ‘Geospatial Recording and Point Cloud Classification of Heritage Buildings’ (26th May 2020); Moderator: Joe Kallas; Link to video recording: https://youtu.be/cVkDgEJxY0Y
- Part 2- Lia Ferrari (Università di Parma, Italy) presenting ‘Securing Damages Churches and Bell Towers: Analysis of costs and techniques of strengthening interventions after the 2012 Emilian earthquake for defining guidelines’ (2nd June 2020); Moderator: Joe Kallas; Link to video recording: https://youtu.be/Y-l6IGwAQlc
By Joe Kallas, Minna Silver and Ona Vileikis.
Shattered stained glass windows and endangered heritage left after the explosion in the harbour of Beirut in Lebanon, reflect the shattered hopes that the capital of Lebanon had during the decades of restoration in its historic sites. On 4 August 2020, a large amount of ammonium nitrate stored at the port of the city exploded causing irreversible damage to large areas of the historic city, among them the Gemmayzeh and Mar Mikhael neighbourhoods. A team of experts and volunteers, using digital technologies and high standards on documentation, are recording and assessing the cultural heritage that remained.
Biruta or Berytus, the ancient city of modern Beirut, has a long history that stretches over the Bronze Age starting some 5000 years ago. A small tell, a ruined settlement in the eastern bay region, witnesses the origins of a Bronze Age town with its Iron Age layers. Possibly from the Ebla archives in Syria, but obviously from the Amarna archives in Egypt, there are earliest textual references to Beirut. At various times Lebanon was ruled by princes under the vassalage of Syria, Egypt, Assyria, Babylonia, and Persia. The local people were Amorites and Canaanites, the latter identified with the Phoenicians.
The Iron Age saw the time of the flourishing Phoenician culture and the building of their own cultural identity. Phoenicians were the rulers of glass making, ivory carving and purple industry with textiles acting as famous traders in the Mediterranean region. Even, the name of Europe comes from a mythical Phoenician princess Europa who was abducted from Phoenicia to Crete. Later, the Greeks and Romans continued the production of these luxury articles. Archaeological layers and remains of the past, found under the modern urban milieu, tell us the long history of Beirut, but at the same time restrict any development in the city.
The heritage value of the Gemmayzeh and Mar Mikhael neighbourhoods dates back to the 19th century, with their architecture of the Ottoman and French mandate eras. They were among the first built after the expansion of the city of Beirut and of the few that still constitute a coherent historic urban fabric, only slightly affected by contemporary development. The Ottoman era architecture from the second half of the 19th century highlights residential buildings and villas with red tiled pitched roofs and large central halls featuring the famous triple-arched bay, emblematic of Beirut. Also, the 20th century three to four stories buildings of the French mandate era are architecturally significant, featuring balconies with decorative wrought-iron balustrades. Both types of structures comprise outstanding heritage values, and at the same time are precious for the owners and residents.
The buildings of the Ottoman era are the most vulnerable. Structurally, they are formed usually by a vaulted ground floor, the most stable part of the buildings, and on the upper floors, the central hall and the triple-arched bay divide the elevations in two. The loads of the high elevations and the pitched roofs are transmitted towards the lower parts via thin marble columns of the arches and thin sandstone masonry walls. A fine and beautiful architecture yet so fragile to withstand the pressure of such an explosion.
Many of the historic buildings that characterize the architectural heritage of Beirut have already been lost since the 90s. Due to the reconstruction works after the civil war, urbanization and globalization some developers have found an opportunity to demolish and build modern and futuristic unintegrated skyscrapers. Even the structures that were saved back then were always threatened by ‘unintentional’demolition. Now, after the explosion, professionals, and NGOs in the field of cultural heritage are concerned that structural damage may be used as an excuse to replace by high-rise the few buildings that remained.
As a response to the damage caused by the blast, heritage experts and alumni of the Center of Restoration and Conservation (CRC), created a volunteering initiative. This initiative is under the guidance of the Directorate General of Antiquities (DGA) with the support of the UNESCO Beirut Office, the International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM), the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) Lebanon, the Association for the Protection of Historic Sites and Buildings APSAD and Blue Shield Lebanon. Right after the blast, the volunteering team carried out a quick survey and assessed the damaged historic buildings. The team started with the emergency propping interventions for the buildings at high risk of collapse. Under the initiative, a team of local members of CIPA Heritage Documentation volunteered for the 3D documentation and photogrammetric survey.
The main mission of the documentation team is to digitalize all the historic buildings post-explosion, prioritizing the buildings at high risk of collapse. The overall aims of the 3D documentation are: 1) to report the current state of the buildings after the explosion; 2) to provide structural engineers with 3D models of the most critical buildings for analysis; 3) to provide the architect restorers with graphical models and drawings where they can quantify the needed work and materials for future restoration projects; and 4) most importantly, to have a graphic and scientific documentation of the buildings as a record for posterity in case of any sudden collapse.
How are we working on the documentation?
Data Capture: The area was divided into several zones, and each zone was assigned to a team member to cover it. Ground-level images are being acquired using a NIKON D800 Digital Camera or similar. Aerial imagery is taken using DJI Phantom 4 Pro Drone provided by the DGA and operated by its qualified staff, S. Germanos and N. Gergian, to cover the pitched roofs and non-accessible areas of the buildings as shown in Figure 4. Images are taken with large overlaps (≥ 80%). There are limitations due to accessibility and not all buildings are captured completely. For example, it is difficult to control the drone around the buildings separated by very narrow alleyways covered by electrical wires heavily covered by garden trees.
Data Processing: The photogrammetric 3D models are processed with Agisoft Metashape Professional 1.6.2. During data processing, images are being masked to exclude unwanted areas of each scene. Out-of-focus areas on some of the images are being masked also to increase the quality of the imagery and reduce noise levels. The 3D models are being semi-automatically generated following four steps: 1) generation of a sparse cloud with an approximate calculation of camera locations and orientations during images acquisition. For this step, the accuracy and density parameters are being set on high. The sparse clouds are being cleaned afterwards according to reprojection errors; 2) Generation of a 3D dense point cloud. For this step, the quality parameter is being set on high and the depth filtering parameter is being set on mild (see Figure 5); 3) Mesh from the generated point cloud. In this step, the mesh is being generated from the depth maps created during the generation of the 3D point cloud. The quality and face count parameters are being set on high. The Meshes are then being cleaned from unconnected components; and 4) Finally, the texture is created to obtain good resolution textures from the original acquired photographs (see Figure 6).
While it is our duty to preserve as much as possible our cultural heritage, we should eventually admit that we cannot save everything. A great opportunity is to systematically document it in case it vanishes permanently. Beirut’s efforts to document its shattered heritage, will keep the collective memory of the community alive, and will transmit the values and significance of these historic places to the wider public and our coming generations.
Abulafia, D. (2012) The Great Sea: A Human History of the Mediterranean. London: Penguin Books.
Bury, J.B. & Meiggs, R. (1985) A History of Greece to the Death of Alexander the Great. London: MacMillan.
El Amarna (EA) letters. Rainey, A. F. (2014) The El-Amarna Correspondence (2 volumes). Handbook of Oriental Studies, Section 1, The Near and Middle East, Vol. 11, ed. Schniedewind, W. M. & Cochavi-Rainey, Z., Leiden: Brill.
Lawler, A. (2011). Rebuilding Beirut. Archaeology, Vol. 64, No. 4, July/August 2011.
Perring, D. (2006). Beirut, Excavating the Souks, World Archaeology, Issue 16, March 7.
Text by Prof. dr. F. Rinaudo
For a scientific committee like CIPA-HD, the Statutes are of fundamental importance because they regulate the way research and dissemination activities are developed. The Statutes cannot be untouchable tool. They must adapt to new situations that the advancement of knowledge proposes to new research habits of its members and to improve the ways in which the tasks entrusted can be performed. After the reform of the Statutes, which took place at the beginning of the 21st century, CIPA-HD approved in 2019
new Statutes which, adapting to the recent ICOMOS directives, revolutionized its organization, trying to propose new forms of participation and an opening towards new forms of collaboration among the members.
The most important novelty introduced by the new Statutes is the modality of participation within the committee. Two categories of members have been defined: regular members and expert members (in addition to honorary members and supporting members). The expert members elect the Executive Committee within which the President, the Secretary General, two vice presidents, the coordinators of the three permanent commissions, set up to replace the working groups that had demonstrated a certain difficulty of action, and the webmaster. All members can propose and support initiatives related to the aims of CIPA-HD both locally and internationally: workshops,
summer schools, webinars, etc.
The three permanent commissions have the role to manage the active life of the CIPA-HD committee: Application of Recording, Documentation, and Information Management for Cultural Heritage – Technologies for Cultural Heritage Geometric Documentation – Education and Dissemination. It will be the responsibility of all CIPA-HD members to judge whether the new statute will bring the expected
results and to propose amendments and adjustments to the rapid evolution of technologies and requests from the world of Cultural Heritage documentation. Now is the time to read the new Statutes of CIPA-HD:
Longread by Prof. Dr. Minna Silver (4 to 5 minutes)
The world has changed from the beginning of the new decade 2020, when the pandemic COVID-19 known as the corona virus has spread to different continents with unexpected consequences.
The world has vividly appeared to be a more vulnerable place for humankind than earlier in modern times has been expected as even the superpowers do not find remedies and answers to the problems. People in many countries are locked in their homes, in restricted areas, and boarders have been closed. Who could have imagined this scenario a half a year ago? But in the lockdown people have found ways to contact each other and keep their routines, although there has been considerable down shifting. Many have become new “Robinson Crusoes” in their environment. Cultural heritage has value as itself, and now its value has been especially recognized to bring special delight, sharing it and keeping one in a good mental health in the lockdown.
The developments in digital documentation and enhanced ways to approach spaces and places with virtual reality can now be seen as a special blessing, when there is not easy access to sites. Previously wars, environmental disasters or political barriers have prevented the access to some places. Now we are imprisoned in our own environments. When one cannot move and visit different sites, the value of recording and documentation of history, sites and monuments for research and tourism will be appreciated in a different way. For research the accuracy of data capture and the increase of open ways to share the data have become more imminent needs. Virtual tourism actualizes and brings delight finding new visitors to experience the sites that are not accessible. CyArk has been in the forefront in recording world heritage sites in 3D and bringing them to be viewed.
For school children and students virtual reality provides an extra dimension for learning about spaces and sites for their studies from home if the schools and universities are closed. Serious games can offer another window to the cultural heritage and virtual worlds. As far as the visits to the museums are concerned, several exhibitions have been opened virtually – even the launches of recorded concerts, operas and ballets have been extended to the world wide web. NASA has provided a way to dive virtually in the coral reef and map it. Wrecks can be also visited in virtual diving http://victory1744.org/
One year ago I participated in an expert meeting in Copenhagen to bring cultural heritage to smart cities, and it opened my eyes to new ways to integrate cultural heritage into the streets. We can now in the lockdown see the need and appreciation of the development of smart cities that are taking cultural heritage into account. Shared cultural heritage provides unity locally and globally in these challenging times. A recently published book Digital Cities: Between History and Archaeology by Maurizio Forte and Helena Murteira (ed.), by Oxford University Press (2020), addresses some of these issues.
Historical cities can make various layers of sites in the past visible and approachable in virtual ways and in this way provide timescapes. There are already various examples to bring sites visually to mobile devices like smart phones or to have little kiosks with screens or virtual glasses/headsets (possibly taking into account the augmented reality) here and there to study and experience a particular spot from different time dimensions and various angles. 3D provides a possibility to immersive experience with goggles or virtual glasses.
For a timescape let’s look at the Rome Reborn project https://www.romereborn.org/ led by Professor Bernard Fischer. I used to study the Cultural Change of Late Antiquity and the time of Emperor Constantine the Great in Rome in the 1980s. Then we as young researchers in a cultural institute did not have personal computers yet and could not much imagine that one day one could provide the changes in the topography of Rome in a digital form. Television could have provided some ideas in an analogue form, but Professor Fischer tells that he already had this idea of virtual Rome in mind in the 1970s.
Now one can visit Rome of AD 320 virtually and see how the city topographically looked like and observe changes. In some extent these kinds of reconstructions entail interpretation and can never fully reach reality; this also concerns archaeological reconstructions in general. But they offer us a valuable dimension to the past, although not replacing it. They just provide another dimension and possibility to experience space and time. One may have extra wishes in texturing and visualizing the building materials, but it all requires more studies of individual buildings, work, time and money. In any event, the Rome Reborn project deserves appreciation in grasping the space and the topography. Now we have a possibility to get some idea of a layer of Roman history in a time capsule and fly over the “eternal city” in the heyday of Late Antiquity.
The junior research group UrbanHistory4D hosted the workshop „Research and Education in Urban History in the Age of Digital Libraries“ under the patronage of CIPA on 10-11 October 2019 in Dresden. Organized by Florian Niebling (Würzburg), Heike Messemer (Würzburg) and Sander Münster (Dresden) it was a joint international event of the University of Würzburg and the Technical University Dresden. The workshop took place at the Deutsche Hygiene-Museum in Dresden and was co-located with the Time Machine Conference.
After the first successful workshop of the junior research group in March 2017, this year two workshop sessions offered the opportunity to focus on different aspects of the overarching topic:
Collections of images, film and visual media in general were the focal point of the projects presented in the first session, chaired by Florian Niebling, project manager of UrbanHistory4D. The presentations showed the varied bandwidth of research questions connected to media repositories.
Seyran Khademi (TU Delft) and Ronald Siebes (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam) introduced ArchiMediaL, a collaborative project of architectural historians and computer scientists, researching on the automatic recognition of architectural and urban forms in visual digital media.
The joint presentation of Francesca Condorelli (Politecnico di Torino) and Ferdinand Maiwald (TU Dresden, UrbanHistory4D) clearly showed a productive collaboration between the two scholars, bringing together different approaches of photogrammetric methods in the context of image and film archives.
A new concept of a critical digital model for the study of unbuilt architecture was introduced by Fabrizio I. Apollonio (Università di Bologna). He argued that via an objective reconstruction of two-dimensional reference drawings as visual part of a 3D model, the latter can show hypotheses in a less subjective way than with conventional methods.
Jonas Bruschke (Universität Würzburg, UrbanHistory4D) showed how a user study was created and realized to find out the most suitable visualization methods in regard to visualize characteristics of collections of historical photographs.
In the second part of the workshop, chaired by Mathias Hofman (TU Dresden), project manager of UrbanHistory4D, especially projects aiming at research on specific urban contexts were in the focus.
So Julia Noordegraaf (Universiteit van Amsterdam) offered insight into the Amsterdam Time Machine. Their aim is to provide a GIS of the 19th and early 20th century of the city of Amsterdam. The Houses of different centuries are automatically 3D reconstructed using the shapes of the parcels of land and the height of the buildings to form schematic 3D models. In combination with information on the functions of the houses it is possible to trace the past of cultural centres in Amsterdam.
Stemming from the Venice Time Machine, Andrea Giordano (Università degli Studi di Padova) presented the further development of the project now focusing on visualizing cities. Aimed at providing interactive, semantic 3D models of urban structures, they use the still quite new method of HistoricBIM (Building Information Modeling).
Piotr Kuroczyński (Hochschule Mainz) focused on the data management in and documentation of 3D projects of historical architecture, exemplified in a project for the state exhibition in Mainz in 2020/2021. It aims at the digital 3D reconstruction of the cities of Worms, Mainz and Speyer in the time of 800 A.D. and 1200 A.D. and presenting them in an adequate way to the public, taking into account to inform the public about uncertainties in the underlying data and the resulting visualizations.
A user study was presented by Cindy Kröber (TU Dresden, UrbanHistory4D), offering a deep insight in how potential users can be involved to develop a digital research tool for (art) historians. The functionalities and usability of the 4D Browser created by the junior research group UrbanHistory4D was examined by participants of the study, providing valuable input to enlarge and improve the functions of the 4D Browser.
The audience, coming from all over Europe, was passionate about the topics of the workshop as the discussions after the presentations clearly showed. The intimate atmosphere – in comparison to the large hall of the Time Machine Conference upstairs in the same building – proved to be the perfect setting to exchange views on how to deal with digital projects in the context of cultural heritage and to create innovative ideas, enriching the topic of the workshop.