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Last Update: 2018-08-03   Source: Research Headlines
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Remote-sensing at the service of cultural heritage

Remote-sensing technology has greatly widened the scope to explore vestiges of the past. Archaeology has embraced it with enthusiasm, as have the experts monitoring and managing cultural heritage sites. An EU-funded project has set out to develop innovative methods and establish a centre of excellence in Cyprus.


© Rafal Cichawa #6512525, source: 2018

On the ground, in the air and even from space – remote-sensing data is generated by a variety of technologies that have opened up new possibilities to identify and study sites of interest. The Cyprus University of Technology is pursuing excellence in this field through an EU-funded three-year project named ATHENA, which was launched in December 2015 to support this drive.

ATHENA focuses on the specialised science centre that is being set up by the university’s Remote Sensing and Geo-environment Research Laboratory. The project is being carried out with the help of experts from the German Aerospace Centre and Italy’s National Research Council.

Skills are being honed through a wide variety of activities, such as staff exchanges, workshops and summer schools. Meetings and conferences are providing further opportunities to exchange information and ideas.

The partners are keen to take their field forward, notably through innovation involving geographical information systems that integrate remote-sensing data with input from other sources. Optimising scientific instrumentation is another priority.

ATHENA, they note, has already demonstrated scientific progress beyond the state of the art, through work on innovative topics such as the automatic detection of destroyed monuments and sites in the Palmyra region based on high-resolution optical data.

Other examples include the use of big data infrastructures for the monitoring of World Heritage sites, and analysis of the stability of ancient underground structures. New and improved techniques could greatly facilitate the preservation of the cultural heritage that has helped to shape European identities and our shared past, and are also expected to generate socio-economic benefits.


Project details

  • Project acronym: ATHENA
  • Participants: Cyprus (Coordinator), Italy, Germany
  • Project N°: 691936
  • Total costs: € 972 841
  • EU contribution: € 972 841
  • Duration: December 2015 to November 2018

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