Photogrammetry

The UCL component of the training in summer 2017 (11th – 15th July 2017), focused on affordable rapid survey techniques of cultural heritage with particular emphasis on photogrammetric recording of at-risk sites and monuments.

Training team

Corisande Fenwick (UCL)
Gai Jorayev (UCL)
Guy Hopkinson (Archaeology South-East)
Nathalie Gonzalez (Archaeology South-East)
Chris Curtis (Archaeology South-East) 

Objectives

Held at Sfax and Mahares in July 2017, the training included 12 Libyan and 6 Tunisian specialists and they learned the techniques of the rapid documentation of cultural heritage which is of significant local and global socio-cultural, historic, scientific and economic value. The technical methods of photogrammetric recording and surveying with different tools were taught in connection with the overarching ideas about heritage documentation, interpretation and management.

Training

The programme began with the photogrammetric documentation of archaeological objects in the Musée archéologique de Sfax and then gradually moved to documentation of archaeological features and entire sites in Thaenae and Iunca. Although not directly under threat of immediate destruction, these sites had significant fragilities and those were used to focus the discussions on longer-term monitoring, conservation and vision of management.  The use of recent and inexpensive technologies in photogrammetry were used to demonstrate the possibilities and the participants were shown how to implement it widely in their areas of work with the equipment they had (ranging from mobile phones to Digital SLRs).

Rapid documentation through photogrammetric means went hand in hand with processing of the data and extracting meaningful outputs that can be employed in heritage management plans, site monitoring and condition assessment, and site presentation and public engagement. The UCL team worked with participants individually where it was necessary in order to make sure that the challenging digital component of the training was successful. Throughout, every effort was made to present the main focus area – Photogrammetry – as part of the wider field of detailed documentation. Its benefits as well as its challenges were discussed openly and the participants had a chance not only to succeed in every stage but also fail occasionally in order to learn from the mistakes. In general, the UCL team wanted to make sure that the participants kept the bigger picture in mind whilst focusing on specific recording or surveying techniques.

Results

Despite challenging field conditions, the week was a great success. The participants learned new techniques and actively participated in group discussions over long-term approaches to documentation and management. They presented their prior work in Libya and Tunisia, linked it up with the themes of the training and identified future projects at their home sites where these techniques would be useful. Channels of communication were established for further discussions between the participants and UCL specialists. The personal relationships built between the UCL staff and different Libyan and Tunisian participants during the training will further facilitate long-term exchange of ideas, discussion of documentation techniques and future collaborative work.