Italian professor highlights science’s pivotal role in preserving cultural heritage

Science should and could play an essential role to engage young generations of citizens to care of their cultural heritage, but also to help preserving it, renowned Italian Professor Maurizio Seracini said on Wednesday in Nicosia, adding that science can really support and can help finding solutions for a lot of issues.

Speaking during an event organized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs economic diplomacy unit and Cypriot art historian Maria Paphiti entitled “A future for our past. Sustaining a countrys national identity through its cultural heritage”, Seracini stressed that if we think that we can deal with cultural heritage just with our eyes or with our hands, or with money only, then probably we have to rethink the whole issue.

Seracini, who is a pioneer in the use of multispectral imaging and other diagnostic as well as analytical technologies as applied to works of art and structures, noted that science is there to provide objective knowledge, not impressions, not just the manual experience, and elaborated on the importance of its application in the cultural heritage field, and more specifically as regards conversation, protection, dissemination, discovery, and authentication. He also referred to the need for the creation of new professional figures of interdisciplinary scientists and the development of innovative and disruptive technologies.

Referring to art crimes as thefts, looting, forgery, the production of fakes, and the illicit exportation of stolen or looted art goods, Seracini noted that this is a major problem and that a new type of expertise, new methodologies and new technologies are needed to face these challenges.

For example, I proposed to Egypt to use drones to flight over archeological sites as a deterrent with a view to prevent looting. Protection is not just caring, it is truly preventing the theft or destruction of art goods, and to follow through as much as possible looted works of art from a country, he noted.

As regards the discovery of cultural heritage sites and artefacts, he noted that we have so little compared to what could still be there hidden somewhere. And in a country like this I can only imagine how archaeological sites are still hidden not only under the ground but also under the water, he said referring to Cyprus.

He noted the potential to use technologies to conduct for example underground and underwater surveys with especially fitted drones, noting that this is not done yet. Along the coastline of this island I would like to see documented not only what lies at the bottom of the sea but also under the bottom of the sea, he said, noting that there are technologies that can do that.

Moreover he said that satellite imaging can be used to conduct a survey especially of the ground, adding that combined technologies like geo-radar, geo-electric and geo-magnetic technologies can also be used to scan the ground and map everything that is there.

In his presentation, Seracini stressed that it is the duty and responsibility of a nation to educate young generations to understand and respect the true values of their cultural heritage.

Cultural heritage must be considered as the most valuable asset of a nation, the foundation of its identity, the Italian professor said.

You can consider cultural heritage in a country as a huge hospital where there are so many patients that you really have to look after because they decay and they can be destroyed, they can be looted but most importantly they can be forgotten, he noted.

And this is the responsibility that every country has for future generations, to make them feel proud of their cultural heritage, taking care of it at the same time, Secacini said.

He went on to say that we have to provide future generations the privilege to see and to benefit from the cultural heritage of a country. It is up to us to make them aware that this is very-very fundamental for their life, for their identity and for their future.

The idea is to get them engaged, to get them to say there is a lot of stuff there we did not realize and we would like to know more about, he added, noting that kids should become protagonists of their own discoveries, for example by using a tablet.

They need roots, cultural roots, and it is up to us to give them values, to give them real cultural values. Those are the ones that will allow them to keep their identity wherever they will go, whatever they will do, he stressed.

That is why cultural heritage must be protected, preserved and its meaning should be disseminated, he added.

He also said that a citizen with a background rooted in the culture, history and traditions of his own country will be able to recognize and respect cultures of other countries and this is so needed especially today.

Source: Cyprus News Agency