Implementing a Risk Assessment and Monitoring Program of Excavated Structures in Stobi, Macedonia
When ancient structures are excavated they are removed from the homeostatic state in which they have been preserved for hundreds or thousands of years. Structures built of stone, mortar, fired brick and mud-brick are then exposed to new, dynamic chemical and weathering regimes and, as a consequence, frequently undergo rapid decay. Over the past century many structures have been excavated at Stobi, and many of the most historically significant structures have received some form of restoration or conservation treatment over the years, in part to stabilize them for the sake of tourism promotion.
In response, the SHR Alliance has been invited to work with a team of scholars from Queen's University, Ontario, to create an integrated risk-assessment and monitoring regime for the geological stability of all excavated, formerly load-bearing structures, i.e. walls, and at the same time to generate 3D models and orthophotos that can be easily repurposed at a later date for the rapid creation of stone-by-stone technical drawings as per the requirements of the Macedonian government for any future conservation project.
Heritage in the Cross-Fire:
Ballistic Damage to Stone Heritage
This Leverhulme Trust-funded project investigates the impact of ballistic damage on heritage sites in conflict zones. This partial destruction is often overlooked, yet ubiquitous in any area where small arms are used in combat. What happens to the stone structure when a bullet impacts? How does this impact vary between stone types? Does the previous deterioration of a surface (e.g. weathering) play a role in its response to an impact? Ballistic impacts, such as bullets, can leave scars that not only aesthetically affect the heritage site but could be the surface manifestation of a much larger fracture network within the stone work which can threaten long-term conversation of the heritage site. Stemming from a diverse range of backgrounds, including geomorphology, archaeology and even zoology, the project team deploys a suite of methods to understand how modern bullet damage differs from more natural weathering processes.
The SHR Alliance is working within this project to help identify several key factors that predict the extent of damage caused by gunfire, including the prior condition of the rock and the weaponry itself. We hope this research will inform both the conservation strategies of rock art sites specifically, and those of other Middle Eastern heritage sites caught within conflict zones.
Previous RASI Projects
Community Based Rock Art Assessments in Wadi Rum, Jordan
The purpose of this project (CBRAER) was to create a long-term, sustainable system, run by local staff of the Wadi Rum Protected Area to document the current state of the abundant rock-art and epigraphy in the Wadi Rum area using the Rock Art Stability Index (RASI) and GIS, as well as bolster local knowledge and awareness. The effects of natural rock decay, as well as vandalism, were recorded, and the resulting database now provides a basis for the future management of this UNESCO World Heritage Site. Facilitated by the USAID-funded Sustainable Cultural Heritage through the Engagement of Local Communities Project (SCHEP) partnered with the American Center of Oriental Research (ACOR), SHRA members worked closely with a core team from the WRPA Staff (Saleh Al-Noaimat, Mohammed D'myan, and Nasser Al-Zawaydeh) alongside several members of the community. Project publications are forthcoming, but for more details click here.
Sustainability in the Caribbean: Grenada Study Abroad Program with the University of Colorado, Denver
Relatively under-researched, the hundreds of petroglyphs on the island of Grenada, colloquially called the Carib Stones, represent some of the Caribbean’s best examples of Arawak Amerindian rock art. Two sites in particular, with easy access and dramatic motifs, exemplify Grenada’s stone heritage and tourism management challenges: Duquesne Bay along the northwest Caribbean coast and Mt. Rich in the northern tropical rainforest. To address this need, RASI and repeat photography datasets were collected as part of the annual University of Colorado Denver study abroad program Sustainability in the Caribbean: Grenada, conducted every May from 2012-2016 (except 2014 when a different research topic was pursued). One of the core foci of the program is cultural tourism and resource management, utilizing RASI as an effective pedagogical tool--providing crucial stability information to the Government of Grenada as well as fruitful learning experiences for participating students.
RASI and Repeat Photography to Research Native American Rock Art in Northwest Arkansas, USA
The Arkansan Ozarks boast rich archeological and rock art heritage, however, much of the state’s stunning pre-historic imagery is at risk of decay. Cultural significance and heritage management limits the use of traditional research and conservation methods, therefore, a non-invasive mixed method analysis was conducted using the Rock Art Stability Index (RASI) and repeat photography. RASI is specifically designed to quantitatively assess rock art decay and long-term geologic stability, where rephotography evaluates visual change over time – providing a more comprehensive approach. This mixed method analysis was employed at three sites representative of Arkansan rock art: The Narrows Rock Shelter, Putnam Rock Shelter, and Edgemont Rock Shelter. Each site has varying lithologies, geographic characteristics, rock art type, and management policies. Results show unique decay processes impacting each site with water, vandalism, and lithobiont activity being common factors.
Native American Rock Art Stability Assessment in Petrified Forest National Park, AZ, USA
One of the earliest and most intensive applications of the Rock Art Stability Index, this project was a five-year research and education grant through the National Science Foundation to train National Park Service employees alongside undergraduate students from various universities in RASI to assess thousands of Native American petroglyphs scattered across the Petrified Forest National Park in northeast Arizona. Not only did this project provide the NPS with extremely valuable geologic stability information about their considerable Hopi and Navajo stone heritage resources--even influencing an alteration in park policy and management to better protect sites identified as fragile--but it also served as a conceptual "proving ground" for the index and demonstrate its incredible applicability to wide-scale sites and long-term stone heritage monitoring projects.
This is merely a sampling of what can be achieved by the SHR Alliance and our partners. To discuss other research potential, become a collaborator or partner, or propose a project of your own, please feel free to contact us HERE or email us at: