Synthetic aperture radar (SAR) imagery has long been used in archaeology since the earliest space radar missions in the 1980s. In the current scenario of SAR missions, the Italian Space Agency (ASI)’s COnstellation of small Satellites for Mediterranean basin Observation (COSMO-SkyMed) has peculiar properties that make this mission of potential use by archaeologists and heritage practitioners: high to very high spatial resolution, site revisit of up to one day, and conspicuous image archives over cultural heritage sites across the globe. While recent literature and the number of research projects using COSMO-SkyMed data for science and applied research suggest a growing interest in these data, it is felt that COSMO-SkyMed still needs to be further disseminated across the archaeological remote sensing community. This paper therefore offers a portfolio of use-cases that were developed in the last two years in the Scientific Research Unit of ASI, where COSMO-SkyMed data were analysed to study and monitor cultural landscapes and heritage sites. SAR-based applications in archaeological and cultural heritage sites in Peru, Syria, Italy, and Iraq, provide evidence on how subsurface and buried features can be detected by interpreting SAR backscatter, its spatial and temporal changes, and interferometric coherence, and how SAR-derived digital elevation models (DEM) can be used to survey surface archaeological features. The use-cases also showcase how high temporal revisit SAR time series can support environmental monitoring of land surface processes, and condition assessment of archaeological heritage and landscape disturbance due to anthropogenic impact (e.g., agriculture, mining, looting). For the first time, this paper provides an overview of the capabilities of COSMO-SkyMed imagery in StripMap Himage and Spotlight-2 mode to support archaeological studies, with the aim to encourage remote sensing scientists and archaeologists to search for and exploit these data for their investigations and research activities. Furthermore, some considerations are made with regard to the perspectives opened by the upcoming launch of ASI’s COSMO-SkyMed Second Generation constellation.
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