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RITHMS at CAA Conference 2023

09 April 2023

In Amsterdam, the Centre for Cultural Heritage Technology, Coordinator of RITHMS project, chaired the CAA 2023 Session: “Hey Google, stop that looter”. Digital technologies against cultural heritage crimes. 

Dr Luigi Magnini opened the session by introducing the problematic use of metal detectors, which has been spreading and affecting both archaeological and historical sites. His talk illustrated how this issue is growing due in part to weaknesses in the regulatory system, especially in Italy, where also World War I sites are targeted by amateurs and hobbyist detectorists, socially accepted despite the illegality of such activities.

Following up, Dr Arianna Traviglia highlighted the potential of Earth Observation and satellite image analysis as an effective solution for monitoring looting activities and the illegal use of metal detectors. With this regard, she discussed the ESA-funded ALCEO project, implemented by CCHT, which aims to develop Artificial Intelligence methods for automatically detecting and classifying looted cultural heritage sites by exploiting multi-temporal satellite data.

Talking about new methods for detecting looting, Dr Michelle Fabiani presented a novel approach to creating robust and reliable spatiotemporal data on cultural heritage destruction using open-source data. Her talk delved into two projects - one using satellite data in Egypt and the other using open-source intelligence reports in Syria - and focused on the methods of data collection and validation. She then concluded with a demonstration of the utility of these methods in a case study in Egypt.

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