Monitoring small scale heritage caves, another perspective of Dolemen de Antelas

The Dolmen de Antelas observed deteriorations and degradations with time since its first excavation in 1993 due to various factors such as surrounding construction activities, climate change, etc., which threaten its preservation and conservation. To better address this issue, this STSM aims to investigate its long-term structural aging behavior and evaluate human impact on its environmental condition, using Wireless Sensor Network monitoring. It is expected that the real-time condition assessment can provide quantitative insights into its long-term performance, preservation and conservation suggestions, and for the sustainable development of underground cultural resources for community valorization (e.g., tourism) and support for the new Route of Megalithic.

The mission resulted in some important conclusions. Based on the field monitoring data, structurally, the dolmen remained generally stable. Environmentally, visitations caused remarkable variations in the internal climate of the dolmen. More visitors, together with a longer duration of stay, lead to a bigger increase in temperature, and CO2 and a bigger decrease in relative humidity with an open gate during visiting.

The STSM provided an added value – an opportunity to look into the aging behavior of such small-scale underground heritage caves using innovative monitoring techniques without destabilizing them. This STSM sets up an example of monitoring small-scale heritage caves from both structural instability and environmental resilience perspectives and introduces a simple and financially sustainable procedure for many other small underground caves that are waiting to be unearthed.