Multidisciplinary approaches to digital documentation of cultural heritage structures: archaeological and engineering perspectives
Ever present in the world of cultural heritage are the challenges associated with assessment, diagnosis, and preservation of as-built infrastructure with potentially unknown materials, techniques, or damage. The proliferation of digital techniques applied to the documentation of cultural heritage has generated an abundance of data sets which can enable meaningful quantitative analysis of the most culturally significant structures in the world. Collaboration between archaeologists, engineers, scientists, historians, and other stakeholders can reach beyond documentation and visualization towards the production of actionable data on the current “state of health” of buildings, monuments, and artworks as well as predict how structures or their constituent elements might respond to theoretical stresses in the future. Technology must be leveraged to aid in modeling and simulating problematic aspects such as heterogeneous materials, existing damage patterns, seismic vulnerability, and unknown construction techniques. Structural engineering methods and software tools not only enable cultural heritage practitioners to make informed decisions based on how the built environment responds to a range of forces, but also allow researchers to learn about how and ancient structures were built.
Since February 2007, the Center of Interdisciplinary Science for Art, Architecture and Archaeology (CISA3) has played a leadership role in the use and development of tools and techniques to reconstruct and analyze the history of great works of art, monumental structures as well as archaeological sites and artifacts. The center is a partnership of UC San Diego’s California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2), Jacobs School of Engineering, and its Division of Arts & Humanities. CISA3 recently started its Cultural Heritage Engineering Initiative (CHEI) which focuses on engineering solutions to used for the study and preservation of monuments, historic structures, archaeological sites, art and other artifacts. CHEI has created a comprehensive methodology and toolbox – integrating instruments for data collection, processing, analysis, visualization, and dissemination, with expertise in field deployment, training, and outreach. Over the past two years alone, our team has worked in Mexico, Chile, El Salvador, Guatemala, Switzerland, Italy, Spain, Greece, Cyprus, Egypt, Jordan, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Mongolia, India, Japan and the United States of America.
Michael Hess received his B.S. in Civil Engineering from Northeastern University in Boston, MA before traveling out to San Diego in pursuit of his Ph.D. in Structural Engineering at UCSD. Fueled by a hobby of carpentry, Michael became interested in structures at a young age and has been studying them ever since. After several trips to Europe he became fascinated with historical structures and now he is working at CISA3 to help preserve them. The goal of Hess’ research is to perform structural diagnostics using non-destructive imaging techniques such as LiDAR, thermal imaging and geo-radar. Developing accurate 3-D models depicting the current condition of historical structures is crucial in assessing their health and determining how to protect them from further damage.
Dominique Rissolo is a Research Scientist at the Center of Interdisciplinary Science for Art, Architecture, and Archaeology (CISA3) at UCSD and directs the National Geographic Society Waitt Foundation (NGS/Waitt) Grants Program and the Rapid Ocean Conservation (ROC) Grants Program on behalf of the Waitt Foundation. Dominique oversaw the acquisition and management of a deep submergence capability for the Waitt Institute, in partnership with Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, and worked closely with agencies and universities to plan and execute oceanographic survey and research projects using AUV, ROV, HOV, R/V platforms. As an archaeologist, Dominique’s research interests include the development of ancient maritime trade networks along the Yucatan coast. His work on the Yucatan Peninsula has also focused on ancient Maya and Paleoamerican cave and cenote use as well as coastal and near-coastal settlement patterns and ecosystems. Throughout his fieldwork, Dominique has been active in local indigenous issues and the development of sustainable cultural heritage preservation strategies. Dominique is a research associate at Scripps Institution of Oceanography and an adjunct professor at San Diego State University (Department of Anthropology) and McMaster University (School of Geography and Earth Sciences). Dominique also serves on the NOAA Ocean Exploration Advisory Board.