Cultural Heritage Sites in Danger—Towards Automatic Damage Detection from Space

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Daniele Cerra, Simon Plank, Vasiliki Lysandrou, Jiaojiao Tian

Subject: Arts & Humanities, Archaeology Keywords: change detection; Cultural Heritage; texture analysis

The intentional damages to local Cultural Heritage sites carried out in recent months by the Islamic State have received wide coverage from the media worldwide. Earth Observation data provide important information to assess these damages in such non-accessible areas, and automated image processing techniques would be needed to speed up the analysis if a fast response is desired. This paper shows the first results of applying fast and robust change detection techniques to sensitive areas, based on the extraction of textural information and robust differences of brightness values related to pre- and post-disaster satellite images. A map highlighting potentially damaged buildings is derived, which could help experts at timely assessing the damages to the Cultural Heritage sites of interest. Encouraging results are obtained for two archaeological sites in Syria and Iraq.

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