Conservation process and significance. A methodological approach to plan shelters in archaeological sites

  • Cesare Sposito University of Palermo
  • Francesca Scalisi DEMETRA Ce.Ri.Med.
Keywords: conservation process, values and significance, assessment method, technological culture, protective sheltering


Within the scientific debate on the conservation of Cultural Heritage in general and Archaeological Heritage in particular, due to its twofold nature (material and immaterial) and consistently with the interest taken by Technological Culture in the importance of those aspects in the process crucial for their proper development and broad enjoyment, this paper proposes an evaluation model to understand ‘what’ to preserve and ‘why’ for a sustainable development, even before considering ‘how’ to do so, allowing a clearer reading and an easier interpretation of the complex relationships existing between the archaeological pre-existences, the natural environments and the added anthropic systems. The offered evaluation model can guide operators towards conscious sheltering planning with architectural value, promoting the identification of the morphological, typological and technical-constructive solutions most suitable to return the potential significance of the Asset.

Author Biographies

Cesare Sposito, University of Palermo

Architect and PhD, he is Associate Professor at the Department of Architecture. He carries out research on conservation process, focusing in particular on shelter systems for archaeological sites, innovative materials for architecture, nanomaterials and energy saving in buildings.

Francesca Scalisi, DEMETRA Ce.Ri.Med.

Architect and PhD, she is Research Manager of the Euro-Mediterranean Documentation and Research Center in Palermo. She carries out research on green materials, innovative materials for architecture, nanomaterials, energy saving in buildings.


Agnew, M. (2002), “Methodology Conservation Criteria and Performance Evaluation for Archaeological Site Shelters”, in Conservation and Management of Archaeological Sites, vol. 5, issue 1-2, pp. 7-18.

Aplin, G. (2002), Heritage – Identification, Conservation, and Management, Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Appelbaum, B. (2007), Conservation Treatment Methodology, Butterworth-Heinemann, Oxford.

Avrami, E. (2016), “Making Historic Preservation Sustainable”, in Journal of the American Planning Association, n. 82, pp. 1-9.

Avrami, E., Mason, R. and de la Torre, M. (eds) (2000), Values and Heritage Conservation – Research Report, The Getty Conservation Institute, Los Angeles.

Bartolone, R. (2013), “Dai siti archeologici al paesaggio attraverso l’architettura”, in Carli, O. S. and Marzo, M. (eds), Engramma – Per una archeologia della visione, n. 110, pp. 58-90.

Berdecou, M. C. (1990), La conservation en archéologie – Méthodes et pratique de la conservation-restauration des vestiges archéologique, Masson, Paris.

Brandi, C. (1977), Teoria del Restauro, Giulio Einaudi Editore, Torino.

Cane, S. (2009), “Why Do We Conserve? Developing Understanding of Conservation as a Cultural Construct”, in Richmond, A. and Bracker, A. (eds), Conservation – Principles, Dilemmas and Uncomfortable Truths, Butterworh-Heinemann, London.

Castellanos-Verdugo, M., Oviedo-García, M. A. and Martín-Ruiz, D. (2011), “Tourist Assessment of Archaeological Sites: The Case of The Archaeological Complex of Itálica (Seville, Spain)”, in Visitor Studies, vol. 14, issue 1, pp. 100-112.

de la Torre, M. (2005), “Part One: Project Background”, in de la Torre, M., MacLean, M., R. Mason, R. and Myers, D. (eds), Heritage Values in Site Management – Four Case Studies, The Getty Conservation Institute, Los Angeles.

Della Torre, S. (2013), “Planned Conservation and Local Development Processes: the Key Role of Intellectual Capital”, in Van Balen, K. and Vandesande, A. (eds), Reflections on Preventive Conservation, Maintenance and Monitoring of Monuments and Sites by PRECOM3OS UNESCO Chair, Acco, Uitgeverij, pp. 123-127.

Demas, M. (2013), “Protective Shelters for arcaeological sites”, in Roby, T. and Demas, M. (eds), Mosaic in situ – An overview of the literature on conservation of mosaic in situ, J. Paul Getty Trustm, Los Angeles.

Demas, M. (2002), “Annotaded bibliografy on protective shelters for archaeological sites”, in Conservation and Management of Archaeological Sites, vol. 5, issue 1-2, pp. 91-105.

Eco, U. (1962), Opera aperta, Bompiani, Milano.

Figueiredo, M., Bernardes, J. P., Rodrigues, J. I. J. and Gonçalves, C. (2018), “A Framework Supported by Modeling and Virtual/Augmented Reality for the Preservation and Dynamization of Archeological-Historical Sites”, in Rodrigues, J. M. F., Ramos, C. M. Q., Cardoso, P. J. S. and Henriques, C. (eds), Handbook of Research on Technological Developments for Cultural Heritage and eTourism Applications, IGI Global, Hershey PA.

Fredheim, L. H. and Khalaf, M. (2016), “The Significance of Values: Heritage Value Typologies Re-Examined”, in International Journal of Heritage Studies, vol. 22, issue 6, pp. 466-481.

Harrison, R. (2013), Heritage: Critical Approaches, Routledge, Abingdon.

Howes, D. (2006), “Scent, Sound and Synaesthesia: Intersensoriality and Material Culture Theory”, in Tilley, C., Keane, W., Küchler, S., Rowlands, M. and Spyer, P. (eds), Handbook of Material Culture, Sage, London.

ICOMOS (2013), The Burra Charter – The Australia ICOMOS Charter for Places of Cultural Significance, ICOMOS, Australia. [Online] Available at: Charter_for_Places_of_Cultural_Significance [Accessed October 4th 2018].

ICOMOS (1994), The Nara Document on Authenticity. [Online] Available at: [Accessed September 8th 2018].

Jokilehto, J. (2009), “Conservation Principles in the International Context”, in Bracker, A. and Richmond, A. (eds), Conservation – Principles, dilemmas and uncomfortable truths, Elsevier Butterworth-Heinemann, Oxford.

Kapelouzou, I. (2012), “The Inherent Sharing of Conservation Decisions”, in Studies in Conservation, vol. 57, n. 3, pp. 172-182.

Lemonnier, P. (2016), Mundane Objects: Materiality and Non-verbal Communication, UCL Institute of Archaeology Critical Cultural Heritage Series 10, Routledge, London and New York.

Lowenthal, D. (1995), The past is a foreign country, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

Mason, R. (2002), “Assessing Values in Conservation Planning: Methodological Issues and Choices”, in de la Torre, M. (ed.), Assessing the Values of Cultural Heritage, The Getty Conservation Institute, Los Angeles.

Mason, R. and Avrami, E. (2000), “Heritage Values and Challenges of Conservation Planning”, in Teutónico, J. M. and Palumbo, G. (eds), Management Planning for Archaeological Sites – An International Workshop Organized by the Getty Conservation Institute and Loyola Marymount University, 19-22 May 2000 Corinth, Greece, The Getty Conservation Institute, Los Angeles, pp. 13-26.

Michalski, S. (2018), “Sharing Conservation Decisions: Tools, Tactics, and Ideas”, in Heritage, A. and Copithorne, J. (eds), Sharing Conservation Decisions Current Issues and Future Strategies, ICCROM, Rome. [Online] Available at: 2018_web.pdf [Accessed November 18th 2018].

Michalski, S. W. (1994), “Sharing Responsibility for Conservation Decisions”, in Krumbein, W. E., Brimblecombe, P., Cosgrove, D. E. and Staniforth S. (eds), Durability and Change – The Science, Responsibility, and Cost of Sustaining Cultural Heritage, John Wiley and Sons, Chichester.

Minissi, F. (1987), “Perché e come proteggere i siti archeologici”, Relazione al Convegno internazionale COPAM, 1-4 luglio 1986, Napoli, in Restauro, n. XVI (90), pp. 78-85.

Muñoz Viñas, S. (2005), Contemporary Theory of Conservation, Elsevier Butterworth-Heinemann, Oxford.

Mussinelli, E. (2016), “Valorizzare i Beni archeologici tra ambiente e paesaggio”, in Sposito, A. and Mangiarotti, A. (eds), Project Soluntum – Tradition and Innovation in ancient Contexts, International Symposium, Palermo 25-30 Maggio 2015 – Monografie di Agathón, n. 5, Ermes Edizioni Scientifiche, Ariccia (RM).

Netti, R. (2017), Disegnare e Rappresentare l’archeologia, il reale il tempo, il virtuale – Conoscere, comunicare, valorizzare, Aracne, Canterano (RM).

Novaković, P., Horňák, M., Guermandi, M. P., Stäuble, H., Depaepe, P. and Demoule, J. P. (eds) (2016), Recent Developments in Preventive Archaeology in Europe – Proceedings of the 22nd EAA Meeting in Vilnius, Ljubljana University Press, Ljubljana

Nutt, P. C. (2002), Why decisions fail: avoiding the blunders and traps that lead to debacles – Lesson about what, works, what doesn’t and why from 20-years study on 400 decisions, Berrett-Koehler Publishers, San Francisco.

Palumbo, G. (2002), “Sheltering an archaeological structure in Petra – A case-study of criteria, concepts, and implementation”, in Conservation and Management of Archaeological Sites, vol. 5, issue 1-2, pp. 35-44. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 4 September 2018].

Pearson, M. and Sullivan, S. (1999), Looking after Heritage Places – The Basics of Heritage Planning for Managers, Landowners and Administrators, Melbourne University Press, Melbourne.

Pye, E. (2001), Caring for the Past – Issues in Conservation for Archaeology and Museums, James & James, London.

Ranellucci, S. (2012), Conservazione e musealizzazione dei siti archeologici, Gangemi Editore, Roma.

Rudolff, B. (2006), Intangible and Tangible Heritage – A Topology of Culture in Contexts of Faith, PhD thesis, Institute of Cultural Geography, Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz. [Online] Available at: [Accessed September 2nd 2018].

Ruggieri Tricoli, M. C. (2012), “La reintegrazione culturale e il processo di musealizzazione nel quadro del concetto di affidabilità”, in Ruggieri Tricoli, M. C. and Sposito, C. (2012), I Siti archeologici – Dalla definizione del valore alla protezione della materia, Flaccovio, Palermo, pp. 68-88.

Ruskin, J. (1982), Le sette lampade dell’architettura [orig. ed. The Seven Lamps of Architecture, 1849], Jaca Book, Milano.

Schofield, J. (2016), “Being Autocentric: Towards Symmetry in Heritage Management Practices”, in Gibson, L. and Pendlebury, J. (eds), Valuing Historic Environments, Routledge, London and NewYork.

Scianna, A., Gristina, S. and Paliaga, S. (2014), “Experimental BIM Applications in Archaeology: A Work-Flow”, in Ioannides, M., Magnenat-Thalmann, N., Fink, E., Žarnić, R., Yen, A. and Quak, E. (eds), Digital Heritage – Progress in Cultural Heritage: Documentation, Preservation, and Protection – Proceedings of the 5th International Conference, EuroMed 2014, Limassol, Cyprus, November 3-8, 2014, Lecture Notes, in Computer Science, vol. 8740, Springer, Cham.

Smith, S. G., Messenger, P. M. and Soderland, A. H. (eds) (2016, II ed.), Heritage Values in Contemporary Society, Routladge, London and New York.

Staniforth, S. and Lloyd, H. (2012), “Use it or lose it: the opportunities and challenges of bringing historic places to life”, in Studies in Conservation, vol. 57, sup. 1, pp. S286-S294.

Stanley-Price, N. P. and Jokilehto, J. (2002), “The decision to shelter archaeological sites – Three case-studies from Sicily”, in Conservation and Management of Archaeological Sites, vol. 5, issue 1-2, pp. 19-34.

Stephenson, J. (2008), “The Cultural Values Model: An Integrated Approach to Values in Landscapes”, in Landscape and Urban Planning, n. 84, pp. 127-139.

Sposito, A. (1995), “Processi conoscitivi e processi conservativi”, in Sposito, A. (ed.), Natura e artificio nell’iconografia ennese, DPCE, Università degli Studi di Palermo, Palermo.

Sposito, C. (2012), “La qualità delle coperture nei processi di conservazione dell’antico”, in Ruggieri Tricoli, M. C. and Sposito, C. (eds), I Siti archeologici – dalla Definizione del valore alla protezione della materia, Flaccovio, Palermo, pp. 68-88.

Stovel, H. (1994), “Conservation tecniques: buldings”, in Scientific Journal, Paris, ICOMOS, pp. 63-68.

Throsby, D. (2002), “Cultural Capital and Sustainability Concepts in the Economics of Cultural Heritage”, in de la Torre, M. (ed.), Assessing the Values of Cultural Heritage – Research Report, Getty Conservation Institute, Los Angeles.

Yaka Çetin, F. and İpekoğlu, B. (2013), “Impact of transparency in the design of protective structures for conservation of archaeological remains”, in Journal of Cultural Heritage, vol. 14, issue 3, pp. e21-e24.

UNESCO (1972), World Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, UNESCO, Paris. [Online] Available at: [Accessed October 13th 2018].

Waterton, E., Smith, L. and Campbell, G. (2006), “The Utility of Discourse Analysis to Heritage Studies: The Burra Charter and Social Inclusion”, in International Journal of Heritage Studies, vol. 12, issue 4, pp. 339-355.

Williams, T. (2018), “The conservation and management of archaeological sites”, in Conservation Perspective – The GCI Newsletter, vol. 33, n. 1, Spring 2018 Archaeological Conservation, pp. 5-9. [Online] Available at: [Accessed November 13th 2018].

The Roman archeological excavations in the area of Welschdörfli in Chur, Switzerland
How to Cite
Sposito, C. and Scalisi, F. (2018) “Conservation process and significance. A methodological approach to plan shelters in archaeological sites”, AGATHÓN | International Journal of Architecture, Art and Design, 4(online), pp. 45-58. doi: 10.19229/2464-9309/462018.
Architecture | Essays & Viewpoint
Share |