The International Day for Monuments and Sites
Theme for 2009 – “Heritage and Science”
About the theme:
There are two major streams to the theme of Heritage and Science that has been chosen for International Day for Monuments and Sites 2009: one being the role that science (and the scientific process) has played in the creation of heritage, and the other being the contribution that science (and technology) offers to the study of heritage.
It is now difficult to separate science and technology; whilst science (as a system of processes and a body of knowledge about the physical world) can often exist without technology, the converse is not true. Technology is a system of tools and procedures concerned with modifying the physical world, and to a great extent is based on science.
The bulk of the World’s tangible heritage, excluding perhaps completely natural landscapes, is the result of this practical application of knowledge. A structure like the Ironbridge (UK) clearly shows the influence of science and technology in its construction; not only the bracing that disperses the load but also the mining, smelting, transport infrastructure and organised labour components that made the structure possible. The Temples of Angkor (Cambodia) not only illustrate an understanding of astronomy, but also of hydrology, mechanics and the requirements for tools suitable for the quarrying of the stone, placing the blocks, and the execution of the reliefs and frescos. The site of Maritime Greenwich (UK) is noted for its association with the science of astronomy and the determination of position and time; whilst being architecturally significant, it is primarily a monument to scientific endeavour. It is also a monument to the practical application of science, as the manufacture of the transit telescope and the precision timepieces depended on the availability of suitable materials and tools. Fundamentally, without science and technology, no monument or structure could exist.
The contribution that science and technology can now make to the conservation, preservation and even understanding of cultural heritage is rapidly evolving and expanding. For example: the use of lasers for the treatment of surfaces and the measurement of shape and form; non-destructive methods of exploration and examination; chemicals and compounds for treating artefacts and structures; isotope analysis to determine causes of stone deterioration; the analysis of compounds using X-ray diffraction and mass spectrometers; the use of information systems to store and analyse data; structural analysis and finite element modelling as a means of planning repair works; and even the use of communication technology for the dissemination of research and developments. Unfortunately, not all contributions are positive; the development of modern weapons explosives also facilitated the reduction of the Bamiyan Buddhas to rubble, and destroys much other tangible and intangible heritage on a daily basis.
The selection of the theme for the International Day for Monuments and Sites offers an opportunity to review and acknowledge the role of science (and technology) in cultural heritage from the two points-of view mentioned above. It also provides an incentive to discuss potential benefits and threats that science may provide in the future, with respect to the safeguarding of the ‘things we want to keep’.
Fonte: ICOMOS international