DOCUMENTATION FOR PRESERVATION: METHODOLOGY AND A GIS DATABASE OF THREE WORLD HERITAGE CITIES IN UZBEKISTAN
Keywords: Heritage Documentation, Inventories, GIS, Silk Roads, World Heritage, Historic Cities, Uzbekistan
Abstract. The historic cities of Uzbekistan are an irreplaceable legacy of the Silk Roads. Currently, Uzbekistan counts with four UNESCO World Heritage Properties, with hundreds of historic monuments and traditional historic houses. However, lack of documentation, systematic monitoring and a digital database, of the historic buildings and dwellings within the historic centers, are threatening the World Heritage properties and delaying the development of a proper management mechanism for the preservation of the heritage and an interwoven city urban development. Unlike the monuments, the traditional historic houses are being demolished without any enforced legal protection, leaving no documentation to understand the city history and its urban fabric as well of way of life, traditions and customs over the past centuries. To fill out this gap, from 2008 to 2015, the Principal Department for Preservation and Utilization of Cultural Objects of the Ministry of Culture and Sports of Uzbekistan with support from the UNESCO Office in Tashkent, and in collaboration with several international and local universities and institutions, carried out a survey of the Historic Centre of Bukhara, Itchan Kala and Samarkand Crossroad of Cultures. The collaborative work along these years have helped to consolidate a methodology and to integrate a GIS database that is currently contributing to the understanding of the outstanding heritage values of these cities as well as to develop preservation and management strategies with a solid base of heritage documentation.