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A Tool and Methodology for Rapid Assessment and Monitoring of Heritage Places in a Disaster and Post- Disaster Context – Syria as a Case Study

Vafadari, A, Philip, G and Jennings, RP (2019) A Tool and Methodology for Rapid Assessment and Monitoring of Heritage Places in a Disaster and Post- Disaster Context – Syria as a Case Study. In: dawson, M, jones, E and Nevell, M, (eds.) Heritage Under Pressure – Threats and Solutions: Studies of Agency and Soft Power in the Historic Environment. Oxbow Books, pp. 87-100. ISBN 9781789252460

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Over the past decade, cultural heritage in the Middle East and North Africa has been at risk of irreparable damage through conflict, looting, and cessation of official monitoring and development controls. Various organizations are seeking to monitor and record the extent of damage through satellite imagery and media reports. While the remote assessment of cultural heritage sites and buildings has the advantage of allowing for monitoring of cultural heritage properties from afar, its main limitation is the reduced level of certainty and accuracy in the assessment. It is therefore also essential to have tools and methods in place for on-the-ground condition assessment and systematic recording of data, for use as and when opportunities arise. In the Syrian context, given the threats and damage to archaeological sites, museum collections, libraries and archives, it is essential to develop strategies for emergency recording, assessment and response, and to build up local expertise and provide technical assistance in order to safeguard Syria’s rich cultural heritage. This paper presents the approaches used in the development of a pilot Historic Environment Record (HER) for Syria which began life as an initiative of the advocacy organization Shirīn, and which has since undergone considerable development. It describes the methodologies and standards developed for use in a geodatabase to provide a systematic way to undertake and record rapid and on the ground condition and risk assessments of cultural heritage. The system is being customized to meet post-war/disaster challenges including emergency recording, measuring of damage and threat, and prioritization of resources and intervention activities. The database aims to set procedures for carrying out systematic rapid condition assessment (to record damage) and risk assessment (to record threat and level of risk) of heritage places, on the basis of both on the ground assessment and remote sensing. Given the large number of heritage properties damaged by conflict in the MENA region, the implementation of rapid assessment methods to identify quickly and record level of damage and condition is essential, as these will provide the evidence to support effective prioritization of efforts and resources, and decisions on the appropriate levels of intervention and methods of treatment. Although the initial work of the research project came out of the ongoing conflict in Syria, this database and methodology has since been developed and implemented as part of the multi-institutional project Endangered Archaeology in the Middle East and North Africa (EAMENA). Given the general lack of appropriate emergency response and assessment databases, this system could also be applied in other regions facing similar threats and damage from conflict or natural disasters.

Item Type: Book Section
Uncontrolled Keywords: emergency recording; damage and condition assessment; heritage database and inventory; risk preparedness; EAMENA; Syria; Cultural Heritage and Disaster
Subjects: D History General and Old World > D History (General)
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > G Geography (General)
N Fine Arts > NX Arts in general
Divisions: Psychology (from Sep 2019)
Publisher: Oxbow Books
Related URLs:
Date Deposited: 10 Mar 2020 12:27
Last Modified: 03 Sep 2021 23:01
Editors: dawson, M, jones, E and Nevell, M
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/12451
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