Condition Assessment and Action Plans

The advanced training by KCL has managed to illustrate the holistic approach to heritage management and the use of GIS and Photogrammetry as a tool to conduct a condition assessment to the site at different scales (the archaeological site, buildings, and then architectural details such as mosaic).

The advanced training took place at the site of Thyna, moving the focus from the site of Iunca for a variety of reasons. First, Thyna has diverse buildings and functions where the trainees can run a condition assessment from the urban scale to the scale of the building and its architectural details. Second, the characteristics of the site provides an opportunity to discuss and explore various methods of documentation and condition assessment of buildings/sites/architectural details, while also focusing on mosaic as part of the whole building not only as a decorative architectural element. Third, the site provides an opportunity to test the participant’s skills to monitor change by re-assessing the pre-existed data using technology (i.e. photogrammetry and GIS); the condition of the buildings and the mosaics have been documented and assessed before. The advanced training comprised of three parts with a series of expert lectures, hands-on practical experiences on the site of Thyna and in-class team work followed by presentations by the three groups.

Figure 1. To the left the data collection by each group at the site of Thyna; to the right, processing the data in-class.

Thyna Exercise
The main aim of the exercise was to run a condition and risk assessment using various documentation techniques and to prioritise the possible interventions to both the structure of the buildings and their decorative features, including mosaics and wall plaster. This was followed by the development of an action plan that clarifies and prioritizes the strategies and actions required to achieve the possible interventions.

The trainees were divided into 3 groups; one group to work on the Thermes de Mois, and one group for each on the Maison de Dionysos and the Petit Therme.

Figure 2. Plans of the selected buildings at the site of Thyna allocated to each group.

Day by Day activities
Day one afternoon session started with a general overview and introduction to the training. Reminding the participants of the methodology that was introduced during the last training in June. It connected the training materials and exercises which consisted of three phases: Identification and documentation of the heritage site, Assessment and analysis, followed by the Response based on the first two phases. This was followed by an introduction to the exercise that would run for the next two days at the site of Thyna, its main aims and goals.

Figure 3. The groups are conducting a condition assessment and comparing old photos with the current state of the structures at the site of Thyna and using the forms designed by the team at King’s College London.

Day Two
The whole morning was spent at Thyna working on the assessment of the three buildings, describing their condition, considering deterioration and risk and the possible interventions. Then the trainees were asked to prepare a presentation of their findings, concluding with the top three priorities for intervention, which was followed by the whole group agreeing on the main priorities for each building. The aim was then to put an action plan together, the following day, to establish a basis for the management of the site. This would help to clarify and prioritize strategies and actions required to achieve the number one priorities for intervention.

Figure 4. The participants are using various documentation methods to conduct a condition assessment of the site (to the left, preparing the data using photogrammetric method; to the right, using the assessment forms as well as drawings and sketches).

Day Three
The morning session, due to poor weather conditions, started with a brief discussion about each group’s priorities for intervention and the required action plan. We also discussed the nature of an action plan using examples to demonstrate. That was followed by more fieldwork on site, exploring and documenting in more depth the condition and possible interventions upon which a series of specific actions connected to the very nature of the building itself and its wider context were proposed. Each group had a participant responsible for locating the data on the drawings, and another one to do the advanced photogrammetric training (see Figure 18). The afternoon was spent processing the data and presenting their work.

Figure 5. To the left, an example of one of the groups’ work to run a condition assessment using photogrammetric method; to the right, one of the participant is processing the condition assessment data using QGIS.

The afternoon session included in-class workshop to process the data collected using both GIS and Photoscan to monitor the change. Some of the participants started to apply the tools they have learnt on the advanced GIS and photogrammetry training and imported the data collected in the field (condition assessment at Thyna) into a bespoke GIS project and creating a 3D models. Importing the site plans (Figure 16) provided with a good basemap; subsequently, trainees started creating new shapefiles and reproducing and adjusting the condition assessment form to fit with the GIS ways of storing and representing data (this was assisted by Marco Nebbia who had discussed this earlier in the week). In this way, it was possible to create a proper spatial database that will allow for better decision making based on a more accurate and quantitative dataset. Moreover, as the spatial database can be easily updated, this will help in monitoring the changes that occurred across the site/buildings between each assessment. Insights into the rate of degradation across the site can then be better monitored.

Following processing and managing the data, each group presented their action plan for the archaeological structure, proposing specific actions and the strategy to achieve this (see Figure 6). The groups then negotiated and agreed these points in relation to the whole site, not only the studied building, based on the observations of each group (see Figure 7).

Figure 6. Examples of the top three priorities for possible interventions and the action plans of each group.

Day Four
During the morning session, we delivered a final workshop that brought together each of the steps the participants followed in Thyna in relation to the holistic approach of the training; moving from site documentation, value and condition assessment, to develop strategies and prepare an action plan. It highlighted the steps that facilitate the management of the site, affecting the process of decision making, and the importance of the significance of the site and how it is being used by the local community and visitors. The workshop also included a presentation by Niki Savvides about tourist management at archaeological sites in general and at the site of Thyna in particular, putting the challenge of tourism in relation to the values, significance and heritage management of archaeological sites.

Figure 7. The final lecture summarises the various methods and strategies that led to design an action plan to the site.

Learning outcomes
At the end of this training the participants developed set of advanced levels for the following skills and knowledge:

  • Classifying and marking the deterioration of the structure and the main risks at the scale of the site, building and the mosaic.
  • Gaining hands-on experience and knowledge of how to identify, categorise, document and assess the condition of the site.
  • Exploring various documentation methods like sketches, photographs, assessment forms, drawing plans, and photogrammetry.
  • Understanding the importance of data management and the use of technology to manage this data (i.e. QGIS and photogrammetry).

Figure 8. A group photo at the end of the advanced training at the site of Thyna.