Capturing experts’ knowledge in heritage planning enhanced by AI: A case study of windcatchers in Yazd, Iran

Mahda Foroughi*, Bruno Andrade, Ana Pereira Roders

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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Abstract

Experts have always played an important role in heritage planning, practice, and theory. There is a wealth of literature published every year regarding heritage and its cultural significance. Experts also contribute to heritage planning and developing policy documents. Still, literature is rarely used as a source of primary research to systematically reveal and compare experts’ opinions on the cultural significance of built heritage. Analyzing them as a whole is costly and time-consuming, especially on built heritage, when much has been written about. While the automation of methods has proven to mitigate such restrictions in other fields, as digital humanities, their application in heritage planning, practice, and theory is still scarce. Hence, this paper aims to investigate the potentials of AI models (e.g., multi label text classification) in analyzing scientific documents, revealing the cultural significance of built heritage, values and attributes. This was done to better understand the similarities and differences between the experts’ opinions. Yazd, Iran, is taken a case study, with a particular focus on windcatchers, a key attribute conveying cultural significance, of outstanding universal value, due to its inscription on the UNESCO World Heritage List. This paper has three subsequent phases: 1) state of the art on the application of AI in heritage planning; 2) methodology of data collection and data analysis related to coding values and attributes of windcatchers, addressed in relevant documents; 3) preliminary findings on the experts’ opinions over values and attributes of windcatchers. Results contribute to the scientific discussion, revealing the cultural significance of windcatchers of Yazd from experts’ point of view. Besides, the potential of AI for heritage planning is revealed in terms of (de)coding and measuring the cultural significance of built heritage from the available documents, showing the opinions of experts with various backgrounds. This model can be applied to other key attributes in Yazd and other case studies and scales to support heritage planning, practice, and theory.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Cultural Heritage
Volume67
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2024

Keywords

  • Attribute
  • Cultural significance
  • Expert
  • Natural language processing
  • Text classification
  • Value

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