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Remote Sens. 2016, 8(10), 817; doi:10.3390/rs8100817

Discernibility of Burial Mounds in High-Resolution X-Band SAR Images for Archaeological Prospections in the Altai Mountains

1
State Key Laboratory of Information Engineering in Surveying, Mapping and Remote Sensing, Wuhan University, Wuhan 430072, China
2
Collaborative Innovation Center for Geospatial Technology, Wuhan University, Wuhan 430072, China
3
Institute of Archaeology, University of Hamburg, Hamburg 20146, Germany
4
Institute of Remote Sensing and Digital Earth, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100094, China
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Kenneth L. Kvamme, Zhong Lu, Richard Gloaguen and Prasad S. Thenkabail
Received: 30 June 2016 / Revised: 21 September 2016 / Accepted: 24 September 2016 / Published: 30 September 2016
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Archaeological Prospecting and Remote Sensing)
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Abstract

The Altai Mountains are a heritage-rich archaeological landscape with monuments in almost every valley. Modern nation state borders dissect the region and limit archaeological landscape analysis to intra-national areas of interest. Remote sensing can help to overcome these limitations. Due to its high precision, Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) data can be a very useful tool for supporting archaeological prospections, but compared to optical imagery, the detectability of sites of archaeological interest is limited. We analyzed the limitations of SAR using TerraSAR-X images in different modes. Based on ground truth, the discernibility of burial mounds was analyzed in different SAR acquisition modes. We show that very-high-resolution TerraSAR-X staring spotlight images are very well suited for the task, with >75% of the larger mounds being discernible, while in images with a lower spatial resolution only a few large sites can be detected, at rates below 50%. View Full-Text
Keywords: SAR; archaeology; object detection; Altai; spatial resolution SAR; archaeology; object detection; Altai; spatial resolution
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Balz, T.; Caspari, G.; Fu, B.; Liao, M. Discernibility of Burial Mounds in High-Resolution X-Band SAR Images for Archaeological Prospections in the Altai Mountains. Remote Sens. 2016, 8, 817.

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