The Special Superintendence for the Colosseum and the Archaeological Heritage of Rome (SSCol) is the territorial institute of the Ministry for Cultural Heritage and Tourism of Italy (MiBACT), in charge of the safeguard, study, knowledge and promotion of the rich archaeological heritage diffused within the metropolitan territory of Rome. Therefore, the mission of the SSCol is to protect, maintain, restore, promote, value and keep accessible to public a lot of differentiated sites, complexes, structures, artifacts and also notable many museum collections, located both in the historical city center - such as the central archaeological areas of Palatine hill, Colosseum and Roman Forum, Domus Aurea, Crypta Balbi, the historical Esquilino neighborhood and other attractive, well known sites and historical buildings - and the suburbs - such as monuments located along the suggestive ancient via Appia, and at Ostia Antica and Portus (near the international airport of Fiumicino), the ancient places of the roman age harbour and commercial seaport of Rome.
Due to this institutional accountability, the SSCol is dealing first of all with the conservation and maintenance of archaeological sites, monuments and architectures, and also of some historical buldings in which the museum collections are currently stored and exhibited. This topical task is addressed with both punctual, short term interventions to respond to specific events of damage due to the natural decay of structures, and middle-long terms programs planned in those cases in which the overall knowledge of the cultural asset and its specific decay phenomena allow to design the future maintenance for each site or structure. Some paradigmatic cases of this dual approach are represented by the contexts of Colosseum, Domus Tiberiana and other complexes located on the Palatine hill, Roman Forum, Crypta Balbi, Domus Aurea, the archaeological complex of the via Appia, Ostia Antica and other ones where many interventions have been planned and periodically undertaken during the last decades, employing different methods, technology, materials and consequently achieving different results. A specific internal service of SSCol deals with these interventions and programs, and with all the related procedures necessary to achieve success in conservation and maintenance of assets, such as invitations to tender, contracts, direction of works, acceptance test, and following conservation and management plans.
Also the safeguard and the care of historical gardens and green areas in which the archaeological assets are included, represent a topical point of the SSCol institutional mission, due to both the age of many trees and the number of species, furthermore undergone a detailed census activity in 2010. Also in this case, an internal service of SSCol takes care of plans and interventions applied to the safeguard and maintenance of trees, gardens and green areas, and deals with analysis and studies about the relationships between plants and archaeological structures at aerial, ground and underground levels.
Due to all these specific competences, from 2009 to 2011 the SSCol has taken part in the interdisciplinary workgroup established by MiBACT and Central Government to deal with the mitigation of the seismic risk and its effects induced on archaeological monuments and structures of the central historical areas of Rome and Ostia Antica. This workgroup has drawn the first italian Guidelines for the seismic risk mitigation for the archaeological assets - furthermore putting in evidence the strategic role of the knowledge framework for protection, study and programmed maintenance of archaeological sites - following the experience of the Guidelines for the assessment and mitigation of seismic risk for the Cultural Heritage issued in 2006 by MiBACT. The workgroup and related research activities have been led by Roberto Cecchi - at that time Director-General of Architectural and Landscape Heritage at MiBACT, and furthermore member of the advisory board of the PERPETUATE FP7 Project - and participated by many experts, scholars, researchers and officiers of MiBACT, SSCol, Italian National Research Council and Universities, among which the same coordinator of the same PERPETUATE Project, Sergio Lagomarsino. The achievements of this research initiative have brought to the publication of the aforementioned guidelines and their diffusion among managers, experts and researchers of cultural heritage sector.
The SSCol accountability for the safeguard, conservation and promotion of the aforementioned archaeological sites and complexes is extended also to the informational heritage related to their overall historical and contemporary knowledge, significantly important for many practices ranging from the archaeological research up to the urban and territorial planning, passing through the restoration and risks mitigation, as demonstrated also by the mentioned initiative focused on the seismic risk. Therefore, since 2008 the SSCol is implementing a new web-based and collaborative knowledge platform dedicated to the Public Archaeology of Rome, through some digitalization and innovation initiatives, such as the ongoing SITAR Project (http://archeositarproject.it/), the self-funded and in-house developed project that is leading to the realization of the first Digital Archaeological Cadastre of Rome. In particular, this webGIS-based platform represents a new knowledge management system and public access point to scientific data and applications supplied by the SSCol for a deeper acknowledgement of both rich material and valuable informational heritage, on behalf of both specialist publics and non-specialist end-users, such as citizens and tourists, cultural and creative industries, and other stakeholders. In this perspective, the SSCol is developing this knowledge management web platform also with regard to a crowd-sourcing - based approach, in order to extend the amount of information collections, enrich the SITAR core data bank and, above all, to engage publics into new participatory processes of knowledge production, sharing, recombination, dissemination and exploitation. Also in this case, a specific internal service of the SSCol takes care of all the aspects of the SITAR Project implementation and data managing activities.
In view of the full implementation of this public platform, the SSCol has activated specific agreements of institutional cooperation with the Italian National Research Council, Universities and other MiBACT institute, in order to innovate its methodological and technological framework and share initiatives aimed to the digitalization of material archives and oriented to the integration of webGIS platform with digital libraries and socializing web environments.
The efforts made by SSCol to implement and provide the final users with a really accessible and usable web platform for collaborative knowledge, are technologically supported also by the Italian National Research and Education Network, namely GARR-X, the optical fiber - based net, managed by the public Consortium GARR on behalf of italian R&I communities and provided with high performance and capacity connections to/from many national, european and global users affiliated to research centers, universities, cultural institutions, national libraries and archives, public health insitutes, local public goverment bodies, schools and others stakeholders.
Regarding to the services supplied by the Consortium GARR along with the network utilities, the users’ autentication policy of the “IDEM - IDentity Management” federation is one of the more interesting opportunities given to all the GARR-X net users, allowing them to access numerous on line resources with the same personal credentials released by their own organization, such as open access repositories, specialistic informational platforms and other similar systems and services. In this perspective, the SSCol has subscribed a specific agreement with the IDEM federation in order to activate its Identity Provider, allow its own users to share IDEM resources and federate the SITAR public platform among the resources already accessed by GARR-IDEM users.
As regards the european research projects, the SSCol participates in the ARIADNE Project (FP7-2013/2017; http://www.ariadne-infrastructure.eu/), started in 2013 for supporting an “Advanced Research Infrastructure for Archaeological Dataset Networking in Europe” through a wide european partneriat and many special interest groups involved in the standardization of data models and new approaches to the archaeological knowledge formalization. Since the beginning, the SSCol takes part in this project and particularly through the MiBACT workgroup coordinated by the Central Institute for Unique Catalogue and Libraries (ICCU), by contributing to methodological reflections and also providing some of the archaeological geospatial datasets of the SITAR platform.
The SSCol has participated also in DCH-RP FP7 Project (http://www.dch-rp.eu/) led by ICCU and recently completed with the issue of the first Guidelines on the long term preservation policies for the conservation and exploitation of the Digital Cultural Heritage. Specifically, the contribution of the SSCol has been given to a proof-of-concept focused on the access to data and applications, and users’ authorization policy through an e-science gateway implemented by the Consortium GARR and the Italian National Institute of Nuclear Phisics.
Furthermore, as regards the institutional mission the SSCol is accountable for other activities, such as:
- the control of eartworks, rescue excavations, geo-archaeological surveies undertaken during infrastructure realization and similar interventions carried out in the metropolitan territory of Rome;
- the coordination and execution of planned excavations and researches finalized to scientific scopes, also within the public/private works above mentioned;
- the safeguard of cultural heritage assets also through the participation in urban and territorial planning processes shared with the local government bodies;
- the study and cataloguing of the archaeological evidences found during the researches and interventions above mentioned;
- the organization of exhibitions and conferences as dissemination activities dedicated to both general and specific themes and both to specialistic and non-specialistic publics, in the latter case also through the SSCol educative service;
- the publication of scientific studies, exhibition catalogues, monographs, papers and more generally reports on all the archaeological researches results.
With regard to all the aspects of the described institutional mission, the SSCol is provided with an economic, organizational and scientific autonomy acknowledged by a specific decree issued in 2001 by the Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Toursim.
The institutional profile and competences of SSCol match the tasks detailed in the proposal especially in terms of expertise consolidated with regard to:
- the competences and accountability for the management and maintenance archaeological sites, complexs and structures of Rome, with the opportunity to define paradigmatic case study suitable for the development and testing of the proposed technological solutions;
- the expertise in activities such as the systematization and formalization of the archaeological domain knowledge, through digital media and tools, particularly important for contributions in and definition of specialistic frameworks and guidelines;
- the competences in testing digital platforms and web tools, and in dissemination activities.
Therefore, the SSCol will particularly contribute to those tasks that consider the definition of theoretical and methodological frameworks; inventories of methods, practices and technologies; test phases; dissemination activities; engagement of other stakeholders of CH sector, with regard both to the institutes of Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Tourism of Italy and other cultural organizations of its network, as well as to local governement bodies involved in safeguard, conservation and promotion of cultural heritage in the context of Rome and Regione Lazio.