Digital documentation techniques & the conservation and restoration of cultural heritage
Cultural heritage is essential for the identity of any community, yet these assets and traditions are in constant deterioration, if not at risk of disappearing.
Our abilities to preserve our society’s cultural background has been impacted by the revolution brought by new technologies, contributing new techniques and strategies that have improved our preservation abilities greatly.
Digitisation of cultural heritage as the method of conservation and restoration
As for the most important techniques for digital documentation of tangible heritage, the ones that stand out allow recreating heritage goods digitally. The use of photogrammetry and scanning to generate digital twins of any type of heritage object and element is becoming essential at the time of coming up with conservation and restoration plans appropriate to our times.
The 3D models resulting from these processes constitute a snapshot of a particular moment in the history of a specific object. This allows us to have them documented in the case of thefts or natural disasters, and it’s also very useful within the field of archaeological excavations, where documenting each layer as thoroughly as possible is necessary. It is no coincidence: archaeology is the science where the use of photogrammetry and LiDAR scanning is most widely implemented.
However, thinking the relationship between digitisation and conservation ends in the scope of excavations would be a mistake. The use of scanning and photogrammetry in architecture allows recreating structures digitally with millimetre error margins, which enables technicians and architects to diagnose any issue a building might have in a better way and without enduring any physical risk due to these tasks.
In other fields, such as sculpture, textiles, goldsmithing and even painting, analysing cultural heritage through its digitisation brings many important advantages regarding the identification of materials, cracks or any potential deterioration issues. Furthermore, in these cases, being able to grant access to a great number of people without having to touch the originals is very important, avoiding the acceleration of their destruction that may come from biological and organic agents.
All these examples revolve around the same idea: digitising our cultural heritage allows us to preserve it much better and, in addition, optimising our efforts.
Universal access to preserve cultural richness
We have to take into account that when we talk about heritage, we talk about a set of goods that represent different societies in their past, present or future, and the members of each society are the ones in charge of determining what is considered cultural heritage and, thus, worthy of being preserved. Within this scope, digital documentation shows its whole potential as an indispensable method for preservation, since it is one of the best ways of responding to the challenge of universal access to heritage.
Through new technologies, internet and devices such as smartphones or computers, which are commonly used by the population, we are able to grant people access to these goods from anywhere at any time, without impacting the originals, as well as reviving heritage that is either forgotten or has difficult access and probably wouldn’t be accessible in any other way.
This way, people can identify with their cultural legacy. Remember: when society recognises the goods that put together its common heritage, its preservation will be assured.
As we can see, undoubtedly, the use of digital documentation is essential in any strategic plan that tries to save heritage, since the advantage and options provided by these techniques and methodologies are practically countless.
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