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Initial Training Networks for Digital Cultural Heritage:
Projecting our Past to the Future

Final Report Summary - ITN-DCH (Initial Training Networks for Digital Cultural Heritage: Projecting our Past to the Future)

The “Initial Training Network for Digital Cultural Heritage: Projecting our Past to the Future” with acronym ITN-DCH ( was the first and one of the largest Marie Curie fellowship projects in the e-documentation / e-preservation and Cultural Heritage (CH) protection funded by the European Union under the FP7 PEOPLE research framework. The Project started on the 1st of October 2013 and ended on 30th of September 2017. Its consortium comprising of 14 full partners and 10 associate members covering the entire spectrum of European CH actors, ranging from academia, research institutions, industry, museums, archives and libraries. The project trained 20 fellows (16 ESR’s and 4 ER’s – in total 498-person months) in CH digital documentation, preservation and protection helping them to create a strong academic profile and market-oriented skills which significantly contributed to their career prospects. The consortium and the fellows training programme was supported by a prestigious advisory board with outstanding professionals from all the world. Therefore, ITN-DCH was -worldwide- a unique project aiming for the first time to analyse, design, research, develop and validate an innovative framework integrating the latest advances in different scientific disciplines that cover the whole lifecycle (chain) of Digital Cultural Heritage (DCH) research, such as data acquisition/ capturing, data pre (post)-processing, modelling, semantics and symbolic representation, metadata description (including material and composition/construction documentation), repository and archiving, visualization and media production through mixed/augmented enabled technologies, personalized and interactive multimedia interfaces, for a cost–effective preservation, documentation, protection and presentation of cultural heritage. Training in ITN-DCH was implemented as an iterative process, revolving around the pivots of the Triangle of Knowledge; namely academia, research institutes and private sector. Secondments between all different sectors and scientific fields were an essential part of training. The 20 Marie Curie Fellows moved around the partners with several secondments, maximizing the knowledge exchange and the links between the academia/research and private sector. ITN-DCH targeted all aspects of CH ranging from tangible (books, newspapers, images, drawings, manuscripts, uniforms, maps, artefacts, archaeological sites, monuments) to intangible content (e.g. music, performing arts, folklore, theatrical performances) and their inter-relationships. The project aimed to boost the added value of CH assets by re-using them in real application environments (protection of CH, education, tourism industry, advertising, fashion, films, music, publishing, video games and TV) through research on (i) new personalized, interactive, mixed and augmented reality enabled e-services, (ii) new recommendations in data acquisition, (iii) new forms of representations (3D/4D) of both tangible /intangible assets and (iv) interoperable metadata forms that allow easy data exchange and archiving.
During the project, a number of Innovative methods and results were produced:
1) The research training included inter-sectoral research components that inherently bridge different fields of Science and Technology to increase cost-effectiveness in CH through mass digitization and re-use. 2) ITN-DCH promoted research training through the active participation of industrial sector and aligned all the activities with the needs of CH industry and libraries about different technological requirements. 3) ITN-DCH promoted research for cost-effective capturing, 3D modelling, web-semantic, archiving and representation of new forms of intangible CH, such as transforming human creativity into tangible “digits”. 4) ITN-DCH introduced a series of new forms of personalized services that mix physical (tangible/intangible) and virtual objects, resulting in virtual surrogates, to allow re-use of CH in real-life application environments and finally, 5) ITN-DCH promoted a scalable capturing research by combining multi-view cameras, depth sensor and TOF cameras for generating high resolution 3D/4D point clouds, with textured data, under an affordable framework.
Four case studies were examined during the project:
Asinou Church, an UNESCO World Heritage Monument, located at the outskirts of Nikitari village in Cyprus which attracts 30,000 tourists per year. Due to its exceptional colourful interior and outstanding value of the frescos, it was one of the four ITN-DCH case studies for the under-training fellows to document it holistically. During their training, fellows have used all possible data acquisition techniques for both the exterior and interior parts of the church to capture in a holistic way the tangible and intangible treasure of this unique monument (including the priest and the liturgie). The fellows presented their results to at the Researcher Night 2016 and to all EuroMed2016 conference participants during the excursion to the monument (see Newsletter 10 about the EuroMed2016 conference – excursion:
Donaustauf Castle was the second case study of ITN-DCH. It is situated in southern Germany and the structure of the castle ruins as well as its historical importance makes it ideal site for training. Within the ITN-DCH a first model of the castle and its landscape was generated using aerial images acquired with an ultra-light paraglide trike. During summer 2015 an extensive acquisition campaign was carried out, where a big dataset was created using laser scanner and photogrammetric techniques. Also, different remains of the castle which actually are in the Historische Museum of Regensburg were geometrically documented. A complete 3D model of the castle and its landscape was generated. Ensuring the entire documentation of the site, a dissemination platform was created to make all the information available (point cloud model, information about the case study etc.).
Carnuntum (the third Case Study) has been considered among the most important cities of the Roman province Pannonia, located in Austria. While a promising site that allows training research on objects, architecture, and landscape scale, the site has been extensively documented, meaning that the data acquisition phase is more of a data gathering phase from existing databases. The Fellows developed a beta application for Carnuntum (similar to Asinou app), which takes the augmented reality concept from the Asinou app one step further to test the augmentation of 3D objects and is also intended as a platform for experimenting with location-based content.
Ilmendorf was the fourth ITN-DCH case studies where a Hallstatt Period elite grave was founded in 2010. Though the burial yielded jewellery made of bronze, gold, glass, frit, and amber, perhaps the most spectacular piece is a belt still partially contained within a block excavation. The block has been investigated using computer tomography - it consists of ca. 11000 individual bronze tacks that were presumably once held in a leather matrix, an ornate bronze belt plate, and at least 15 large blue and yellow glass rings suspended from the bottom. The first goal of the case study was the high-resolution 3D survey of all the in-situ-findings at their exact spot. This was documented - for the first time- using a special ITN-DCH acquisition protocol created during several secondments. Starting with 3D models of each individual finding, a complete 3D registration of the block was created to register all info., as well as the data generated in previous campaigns, such as tomography or microscopy documentation. Furthermore, as part of a complete digitization pipeline, fellows visualized the belt a virtual 3D object allowing the models of individual finds produced by other fellows.
This MSCA fellowship project ( was an outstanding and extraordinary scientific project that led the way the last 4 years in Digital Cultural Heritage, promoting the “excellence” in research training for Marie Curie Fellows and producing high impact results in academic research and in industrial sector. The project used massively the social media channels on Facebook: and Twitter: and produced several posters: and twelve newsletters available on the project's webpage: reflecting their excellent work and results, as well as a small handbook which is online available for those, who are interested to get an overview of the fellows achievements:

It is is worth mentioning that the day after the end of this project, UNESCO announced to the Cyprus University of Technology (CUT) / Digital Heritage Research Lab (Coordinator of the project) the unique worldwide and prestigious UNESCO Award on Digital Heritage to our University. This is the most reputable and distinguished award from UNESCO and recognized the hard work, responsibility, high caliber of outstanding results and commitment of the University as well as the Coordinator of the project to work in this particular area of research and development on local, regional and international level.
The coordinator of this project Dr. Marinos IOANNIDES has been appointed as the director of the UNESCO Chair as of the 1st of November 2017 and has to set-up in the next two years an international network for the Training of MSc and PhD fellows in the area of Digital Heritage under the auspices of UNESCO. The different course will be accredited by UNESCO every four years.
In the mean-time the Cyprus University of Technology received also the EU ERA CHAIR on Digital Cultural Heritage. The main mission is to set-up a Center of Excellent on Digital Heritage in Europe.
The webpage as well as the Facebook page of the project ( Like us: ) are still online and running.