BUILT HERITAGE DOCUMENTATION AND MANAGEMENT: AN INTEGRATED CONSERVATION APPROACH IN BAGAN
Keywords: Risk Preparedness, Bagan, Built Heritage, Capacity-Building, Digital Workflows
Abstract. Good practices in heritage conservation are based on accurate information about conditions, materials, and transformation of built heritage sites. Therefore, heritage site documentation and its analysis are essential parts for their conservation. In addition, the devastating effects of recent catastrophic events in different geographical areas have highly affected cultural heritage places. Such areas include and are not limited to South Europe, South East Asia, and Central America. Within this framework, appropriate acquisition of information can effectively provide tools for the decision-making process and management. Heritage documentation is growing in innovation, providing dynamic opportunities for effectively responding to the alarming rate of destruction by natural events, conflicts, and negligence. In line with these considerations, a multidisciplinary team – including students and faculty members from Carleton University and Yangon Technological University, as well as staff from the Department of Archaeology, National Museum and Library (DoA) and professionals from the CyArk foundation – developed a coordinated strategy to document four temples in the site of Bagan (Myanmar). On-field work included capacity-building activities to train local emerging professionals in the heritage field (graduate and undergraduate students from the Yangon Technological University) and to increase the technical knowledge of the local DoA staff in the digital documentation field. Due to the short time of the on-field activity and the need to record several monuments, a variety of documentation techniques, including image and non-image based ones, were used. Afterwards, the information acquired during the fieldwork was processed to develop a solid base for the conservation and monitoring of the four documented temples. The relevance of developing this kind of documentation in Bagan is related to the vulnerability of the site, often affected by natural seismic events and flooding, as well as the lack of maintenance. Bagan provided an excellent case study to test the effectiveness of the proposed approach, to prevent and manage the damages of catastrophic events, and to support retrofitting actions. In order to test the flexibility of adopted methodology and workflow, temples with different features – in terms of architectural design, shape, and geometry – were selected. The goals of these documentation activities range from testing digital documentation workflows for the metric and visual recording of the site (reviewing strengths and limitations of particular recording techniques), to the definition of effective conditions assessment strategies.