Project facts

Duration: 2015-09-01 - 2018-02-28
Project coordinator: Istituto Superiore per la Protezione e la Ricerca Ambientale Geological Survey of Italy
Project consortium: Natural Environment Research Council (UK); Cyprus University of Technology (Cyprus); University of Milano-Bicocca (Italy); Instituto Geologico y Minero de Espana (Spain)
Funding bodies: JPI CH; European Commission
Subject areas: Archaeology, Climate Change, Conservation, Cultural Landscapes, Heritage Management, Materials, Methods - Procedures, Monitoring, Monuments - Sites, Sustainability, Tangible Heritage, Technologies - Scientific processes, Threats, Urban Heritage
Budget: 741.580.00€


New space technology based on radar interferometry is capable of monitoring, since 1992 and with mm precision, surface deformation for reflective targets named persistent scatters (PS), which consistently return stable signals to the radar satellites.

The project has applied this new technique to monuments and sites that were potentially unstable due to landslides, skin holes, settlement, subsidence, active tectonics as well as structural deformation, all of which could be affected by climate change and human interaction.

The approach has been implemented in more than 450 sites on the UNESCO World Heritage List in geographical Europe.

After the remote sensing investigation, detailed geological interpretation, hazard analysis, local-scale monitoring, advanced modeling and field surveying for the most critical sites have been carried out to discover the cause and extent of the observed motions.

Active engagement of stakeholders from both academic and heritage conservation sectors has been undertaken via the establishment of the Steering Committee and Demonstration Site Stakeholders.

PROTHEGO has enhanced cultural heritage management at the national level, reinforcing institutional support and governance through knowledge and innovation, identifying, assessing and monitoring risks, strengthening disaster preparedness at heritage properties in the future.

Impacts & Results

The PROTHEGO project has provided a new remote sensing tool and a new methodological approach for the safety management of cultural heritage, at low cost and covering monuments and sites located in Europe.

The project has promoted interdisciplinary and collaborative R&D activities, transferring the highest level of knowledge, quality and standards from space and earth sciences to cultural heritage conservation sciences.

It has brought together the different actors in the field of protection of cultural heritage in risky areas by defining a new paradigm of sustainable management and conservation, acting as a catalyst for the economic growth of European countries.

PROTHEGO methodology has focused on long-term monitoring systems, indirect analysis of environmental contexts, investigating changes and decay of structure, material, and the landscape of cultural heritage.

All the tools developed during this project have been useful to policy-makers in the field of cultural heritage for correct decision-making based on the integrated risk assessment.

The innovative use of technologies such as TLS (terrestrial laser scanning) has allowed a real three-dimensional reconstruction of the site useful for the modeling and, at the same time, the creation of virtual models remotely accessible.

It has promoted correct planning and the related design issues to rebalance the contrast between endogenous and surrounding exogenous forces affecting the European cultural heritage.


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