IH-AT UNESCO Church Project (Cyprus)

About this project

The aim of the Invisible Heritage - Analysis and Technology (IH-AT) project is to develop a portal for the visualisation, documentation and non-invasive archaeological analysis of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites collectively known as the ‘Painted Churches in the Troodos Region’ in Cyprus – a group of Byzantine and post-Byzantine churches decorated with painted frescoes, considered among the best-preserved examples of religious art of this era.

In an era of rapid technological improvements, state-of-the-art methodologies and tools dedicated to the protection and promotion of our cultural heritage should be developed and extensively employed to expand and enrich historical and archaeological research and possibly revise or add new information to established theories. The IH-AT project aims to design and develop an innovative portal comprised of reliable and efficient technology-ready tools for the visualisation, documentation and analysis of the UNESCO listed churches in the Troodos area. The project aims at applying non-destructive techniques (NDT), geophysics, 3D modelling and visualisation methods, supported by art-historical and archaeological research, to investigate a cluster of selected churches in Cyprus. The main aims are to preserve by way of record the existing structural remains and to identify lost and invisible features as well as assess the conservation conditions of their structures. The portal will be exploited by a variety of stakeholders and is targeted to public authorities, universities and individuals.

This pilot application will enable the generation of an online platform and database from which information and data can be extracted. This can be used to inform further research and conservation projects at the specific UNESCO churches. In addition, the platform will act as a methodological example of best practice with a view to expanding them to other heritage sites in Cyprus. Through the integration of expertise from different disciplines, the project will forge essential links and synergies for the delivery of innovative tools to tackle challenges related to the conservation, restoration and knowledge of heritage sites.

A holistic research approach will rely on:

  1. traditional art-historical and archaeological studies for context analysis;
  2. reliable and efficient technology-ready tools for 3D modelling and interactive visualisation;
  3. state of the art non-destructive geophysical tools including high and low frequency ground penetrating radar, microgravity and electrical resistivity tomography.

These methods include non-invasive surveying, site walk-overs, and 3D modelling and visualisation methods, for the purposes of identifying the evolution of the structures and the presence of buried structures and ancient living surfaces, as well as allowing the addition of new information to cartographic and documentary sources. Additionally, where lost structures are identified, informative boards shall be erected to describe them, as well as their significance and virtual reconstruction, to enhance the visitor experience, and thus boost visitor numbers.

Lead researcher

Kevin Colls

Associate Professor

Kevin is a professional archaeologist, forensic investigator, and researcher at Staffordshire University. The Course Leader for MSc and MA programs in Forensic Archaeology and Genocide Investigation.

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Associated researchers

Professor Caroline Sturdy Colls

Professor Of Conflict Archaeology

Prof. Sturdy Colls' pioneering research focuses on the application of interdisciplinary approaches to the investigation of Holocaust landscapes. Caroline is the Course Leader for the Forensic Archaeology masters.

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William Mitchell


William has worked on a number of forensic research projects throughout Europe, including sites of the Holocaust in Germany, Ukraine and Poland. Using non-invasive geophysical techniques, he has developed his specialism in the search and recover…

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