The International Archives of the Photogrammetry, Remote Sensing and Spatial Information Sciences
Publications Copernicus
Articles | Volume XLII-2/W15
21 Aug 2019
 | 21 Aug 2019


A. D'Andrea, A. Di Lillo, A. Laino, and P. M. Pesaresi

Keywords: Conservation, maintenance, documentation, GIS, object-oriented, monitoring

Abstract. Herculaneum, buried by Mount Vesuvius in AD 79, was only extensively excavated during the twentieth century, revealing a remarkable level of preservation but also fragility of what had survived of this Roman seaside town. By the turn of the century, the conservation challenges, paired with the limited capacity of the authorities to respond, was putting the archaeological site at risk. The Herculaneum Conservation Project (HCP), a public-private project underway since 2001, has helped turnaround this situation with the presence of an interdisciplinary team working all year round alongside the public authority, today the Archaeological Park of Herculaneum. With the site in a more stable condition, HCP's attention in the last ten years shifted to building up knowledge and competencies for the self-sufficiency of the Park authority in the face of core long-term management obligations. A new focus on conservation proposals that meet the site's needs but are suited to public tendering found its maximum expression in planning long-term site maintenance cycles. Through the voices of the practitioners involved, the paper recounts the resources and approaches that have been developed in this regard, in particular the specific GIS module that breaks down the archaeological site into the items to be maintained and their relative importance. This massive register of objects – walls, architraves, doors, frescoes, mosaics, etc. – is the backbone of the three-year maintenance cycles developed by HCP adopting an innovative procurement framework for co-sourcing services and works in Italy, the first of which is now being implemented by the Park. A web-based application accessible by operators on site allows real time transmission of monitoring data and records of site-works underway to the database and GIS platform, satisfying immediate administrative needs and quality controls but also delineating the scope of subsequent maintenance cycles. Technological and management tools, shaped by, and responsive to, the needs of the site and their users (the heritage practitioners involved), have been put at the service of the entire life cycle of programmed maintenance at an urban scale, both administrative and technical aspects. This is part of a wider upward spiral of management improvements for the long-term sustainability of this important archaeological site.