Creating an online open-access database of heritage sites in Central Asia: combining satellite imagery, archival records, ground survey.
From megacities to religious sites, from nomadic camps to burial mounds, from mountain forts to complex water management systems, there is an astounding range of archaeological heritage across Central Asia. While many of these sites are already protected by state legislation, a very significant number are not. A vast range of heritage is rapidly disappearing through recent urban expansion, changing agricultural practices, rural depopulation, and the effects of climate change.
Our multinational and multidisciplinary teams are digitising existing archives and records; consolidating information held by regional institutions and research centres into a single multilingual catalogue. Using satellite imagery, we are identifying existing and new sites, examining changes over time as well as creating an interactive map using the ARCHES data management platform (developed by the Getty Conservation Institute and World Monuments Fund). These integrated desk-based resources are then used to prioritise field visits which confirm new sites and the state of preservation, improve documentation through high resolution photographs and condition reporting, assess threats, and contribute to decision-making by local heritage professionals.
The project is creating a shared space for archaeologists, architects, conservation professionals, as well as the wider public interested in the fascinating and varied archaeological heritage of Central Asia.