Wednesday, October 19, 2011

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The term cultural heritage may be allocated to any kind of evidence related to human action, any ‘product’ of human creativeness and expression widely accepted for its scientific, historic, artistic and anthropological value.
Monuments, caves of archaeological interest, groups of buildings, archaeological sites (open air areas, subterranean, submarine or coastal), mobile objects, archival material, scientific works, paleontological & paleoanthropological remains, industrial sites and landscapes of memory (e.g. languages, oral traditions, sacred and mythical landscapes), museums and collections, all are prone to diverse hazards, the impacts of which can demand extremely expensive restoration programmes.

Finally, the category of the archaeological remnants underneath the surface of earth or water, usually being transformed into geological features (e.g. buried sites under river courses, cultivated lands, estuaries, layers of various sediments, e.t.c.) cry out for their protection from all kind of physical disturbance.
The cultural issues are of high importance as they influence human behaviour, and thus environmental condition and change. But there is still a scarcity of techniques designed to deal with cultural heritage in Hazard Management, a shortage of published data on cultural assets apart from a few famous sites and a shortage of qualified people to address the cultural heritage sub-component of Hazard Management.

Cultural landscapes are considered as representing systems. So, their vulnerability is defined as the degree of susceptibility to damage from hazardous phenomena. However, in the case of cultural heritage, it is not feasible to analyse the entire system with respect to vulnerability. It is necessary to disaggregate the system into a number of components and perform a detailed analysis on each one of them. Thus, the vulnerability of patrimony may be assessed using the social indicators preferred for estimating the community’s vulnerability to natural or technological hazards. In this case, the assessment should be carried out according to a four-part analysis (under the acronym of IESO):

a) Intrinsic parameters (describing the condition of the cultural asset),
b) Environmental parameters (describing the natural setting),
c) Socio-economic parameters (describing the living community) and
d) Organizational / Institutional parameters (describing various structures and functions of the State).