(Dipartimento di Scienze dei Beni Culturali, Università degli Studi della Tuscia, Viterbo, Italy)

Keywords: mural painting, rupestrian, Turkey, digital survey, restoration

The University of Tuscia, Viterbo (Italy),  has been working in the territory of Nevşehir since 2006, conducting the research mission “Rock painting in Cappadocia. For a project of knowledge, conservation and enhancement”. The mission, directed by Maria Andaloro, enjoys the support of the General Direction of the Ministry of Tourism and Culture of the Republic of Turkey and of the Archaeological Museum of Nevşehir; it is also tied to a current PRIN project (Italian National Relevance Research Projects).
The research has been carried out following an interdisciplinary methodology, which links humanistic knowledge with scientific and technical investigations and with latest developments in new technologies applied to cultural heritage. Consequently the team includes art historians, archaeologists, chemists and photographers from Tuscia University, architects from the University of Florence and Rome, geologists from the University of Calabria and speleologists  from the Centro Studi Sotterranei in Genoa.
The work of Tuscia University has followed two main guidelines:
Survey: through the analysis of a large group of churches in the region, we aim at the  implementation of a  database on mural paintings and mosaics in Asia minor from the 4th to the 14th century. This database, that we have formed since 1996, within a project carried out in the territory of South West of Turkey, is devoted to several aspects of painting: constituent materials, technics of execution, status of conservation, but also iconographical themes and stylistic paths.
Two projects of knowledge, conservation and valorisation: since 2008 we have been carrying out the  study and restoration of the pictorial decoration of the church of the Forty Martyrs in Şahinefendi; since 2011 we are also taking part in a project for the conservation of the paintings in the Tokalı Kilise in Göreme.
In Göreme the two routes of our work are particularly connected. Since 2012 campaign, in fact, the survey is focusing on the area of Göreme Open Air Museum and on the surrounding valleys of Göreme and Kiliçlar.
Our goal is the realization of a comprehensive study of all the painted churches in this area, with an eye firmly anchored to the indissoluble union between the natural landscape, excavated buildings and paintings. We aim at  an in-depth knowledge of the pictorial decorations and at a better understanding of civil and religious functions of rock cut buildings and of the phases of development of the cave settlement.
Within this work, correct documentation through digital survey and digital photography is a fundamental base for knowledge, conservation and valorization.
The creation of 3D models, in particular, will display the paintings in the excavated churches that host them, allowing a deeper and clearer knowledge of the rupestrian habitat in all its components.  It will also be very useful for the realization of innovative instruments of fruition, suitable for a presentation of the rock monuments and pictorial decorations scientifically correct and diversified according to different communication levels: virtual reality installations and other multimedia products for the visitors of Open Air Museum.