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Capacity building for the documentation and conservation of Latin American cultural heritage: making technology accessible and sustainable

Miquel Reina Ortiz (Carleton Immersive Media Studio, Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada)
Mario Santana Quintero (Carleton Immersive Media Studio, Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada) (Raymond Lemaire International Centre of Conservation, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven – Campus Arenberg, Heverlee, Belgium)
Clemencia Vernaza (Universidad Externado, Bogota, Colombia)
Patricia Ramírez (Instituto Colombiano de Antropología e Historia (ICANH), Bogota, Colombia)
Fernando Montejo Gaitán (Instituto Colombiano de Antropología e Historia (ICANH), Bogota, Colombia)
Juana Segura Escobar (Universidad Externado, Bogota, Colombia)

Journal of Cultural Heritage Management and Sustainable Development

ISSN: 2044-1266

Article publication date: 30 April 2021

Issue publication date: 14 May 2021

126

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this contribution is to demonstrate the importance of interdisciplinary collaboration in integrating advanced and emerging digital techniques in the appropriate and sustainable documentation of heritage sites in Latin America. Existing collaboration between the Universidad del Externado de Colombia, the Colombian Institute of Anthropology and History and the Carleton Immersive Media Studio of Carleton University in Ottawa (Canada) have been sued to demonstrate the importance of this approach. The described collaboration allowed a team of students, researchers, government experts and educators to document selected pilot areas of the remarkable UNESCO World Heritage Sites of National Archeological Park of Tierradentro (UNESCO, 1995) and San Agustín Archaeological Park (UNESCO, 1995). The sophisticated digital recording techniques described, such as 3D scanning, aerial and ground photogrammetry techniques, were used to capture the site's current physical condition, emphasizing the pressing need to conserve the threatened mural paintings (Tierraadentro) and carved rock phases (San Agustin). This contribution also underlines the importance of developing the training of emerging professionals from Colombia in adopting these techniques to make their documentation more accurate, reliable and sustainable in the long term. The project's conclusions demonstrate that it is crucial to integrate emerging documentation techniques into the sustainable approach to conservation of these two important UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Design/methodology/approach

The approach presented in this contribution makes technology more accessible to the conservation specialist in Latin America. It provides a comprehensive capacity building program that involves teaching about theory and practice, using two important UNESCO World Heritage Sites located in Colombia. It is also relevant to the interdisciplinary and institutional collaboration between two universities in the North/South areas of the continent and a government institution that effectively collaborates to provide training to emerging professionals.

Findings

The contribution summarizes the opportunities and limitations of adopting technology to make the documentation process for conservation more sustainable in low-income economies and provides a framework to implement future strategies in South America.

Originality/value

The paper raises a discussion on how the concept of sustainability of adopting new technologies in the context of Latin American countries can assist in optimizing the conservation of decorated surfaces in important UNESCO World Heritage Sites by involving capacity building of emerging professionals.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors would like to thank the Site Custodians of the National Archaeological Park of Tierradentro and San Agustín Archaeological Park for providing logistic support to this important project.

Also, to Maria Alvarez Echeverry and Catalina Bateman Vargs of the Programa de Conservación y Restauración de Patrimonio Cultural Mueble, Facultad de Estudios del Patrimonio Cultural at the Universidad Externado for the support provided to conduct the work that are the basis of this paper.

Further, the authors thank other colleagues from the Instituto Colombiano de Antropología e Historia (ICANH) and Carleton Immersive Media Studio (CIMS) who provided support and useful information for this contribution.

Citation

Reina Ortiz, M., Santana Quintero, M., Vernaza, C., Ramírez, P., Montejo Gaitán, F. and Segura Escobar, J. (2021), "Capacity building for the documentation and conservation of Latin American cultural heritage: making technology accessible and sustainable", Journal of Cultural Heritage Management and Sustainable Development, Vol. 11 No. 2, pp. 155-169. https://doi.org/10.1108/JCHMSD-05-2020-0076

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2021, Emerald Publishing Limited

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