Recently, at the Zarzuela Theatre in Madrid, the European Commission and the organization Europa Nostra awarded the European Union Prize for Cultural Heritage / Europa Nostra Award. Twenty-eight laureates from 16 countries were selected from 187 applications and presented with awards by Tibor Navracsics the European commissioner for education, culture, youth and sports and Plácido Domingo, president of Europa Nostra.
Among them was the EU-project Pitoti, in which the Institute for Creative \ Media / Technologies (IC\M/T) of the University of Applied Sciences St. Pölten was involved. With modern media technology It makes prehistoric stone pictures accessible to interested people.
Hunter-gatherers: from stone to the screen
The petroglyphs are often barely visible or in rough terrain, which for reasons of preservation may not be entered. "Rock art is stationary and cannot be arbitrarily transported. Due to the great interest in these art works they are exposed to a constant stream of visitors, which endangers and destroys the fragile stone pictures", explained Markus Seidl, head of the Institute for Creative \ Media / Technologies (IC\M/T) and Pitoti-project director at the UAS St. Pölten.
Archaeologists and media technicians from Italy, Austria and England worked in the Pitoti-project to permanently preserve the valuable examples of earliest art. The stone pictures were digitized and presented to visitors as film, animation, installation and virtual game: for example, in exhibitions at the Triennale in Milan and in the Museum of Archaeology & Anthropology at Cambridge University.
Excellent creativity and innovation
"The projects chosen by the juries are excellent examples of creativity, innovation, sustainable development and social participation in the heritage field throughout Europe", wrote Europa Nostra in a press release. The laureates were recognized for their achievements in the field of preservation and research; and for their dedication and hard work as well as their activities in education, training and awareness-raising.
„While the technical aspect of this research was of immense worth and serves as an example of best practice for the recording of this priceless rock art internationally, the newly developed methods of presenting the rock art to an audience and of encouraging visitor interaction is commendable“, according to the prize jury in a statement released by Europa Nostra.
According to the Jury's statement, "the quality of the research is highly original and we found the combination of the oldest and newest forms of human graphic art captivating. We appreciated the Prehistoric Picture Project’s exploration of the boundaries between classic research and the performing arts."
Copyright: Europa Nostra / Álvaro Marín
Follow-up project: stone pictures in 3D
As part of the recently completed follow-up project 3D-Pitoti, the UAS St. Pölten together with European research institutions examined for the first time the three-dimensional structure of stone pictures using 3D cameras. In this project, the UAS St. Pölten developed new methods for the analysis of the pictures and large volumes of data.
"This technique facilitates archaeologists work. Until now, the pictures had to be laboriously copied by hand onto transparencies. The techniques developed in the 3D process could also be used in the future by industry such as in surface analysis", said Seidl.
Europa Nostra Award
The European Union Prize for Cultural Heritage / Europa Nostra Awards was launched by the European Commission in 2002 and has been run by Europa Nostra since then. It celebrates and promotes best practices related to heritage conservation, research, management, voluntarism, education and communication.
Pitoti - project for digitization and presentation of prehistoric rock art from Italy
The Pitoti project was funded by the Culture Programme of the European Commission and took place in cooperation with the CCSP - Centro Camuno di Studi Preistorici, Capo di Ponte, Italy (project management) and the MAA - Museum of Archaeology & Anthropology, University of Cambridge, Great Britain.
The project lasted from 2011 to 2013.