In remote sensing for archaeology, an unequivocal method capable of automatic detection of archaeological features still does not exists. Applications of Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) remote sensing for archaeology mainly focus on high spatial resolution SAR sensors, which allow the recognition of structures of small dimension and give information of the surface topography of sites. In this study we investigated the potential of combined dual and fully polarized SAR data and performed polarimetric multi-frequency and multi-incidence angle analysis of C-band Sentinel-1, L-band Advanced Land Observing Satellite Phased Array type L-band Synthetic Aperture Radar (ALOS PALSAR) and of C-band Radar Satellite-2 (RADARSAT-2) datasets for the detection of surface and subsurface archaeological structures over the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) site of Gebel Barkal (Sudan). While PALSAR offers a good historical reference, Sentinel-1 time series provide recent and systematic monitoring opportunities. RADARSAT-2 polarimetric data have been specifically acquired in 2012/2013, and have been scheduled to achieve a multi-temporal observation of the archaeological area under study. This work demonstrated how to exploit a complex but significant dataset composed of SAR full polarimetric and dual polarimetric acquisitions, with the purpose of identifying the most suitable earth observation technique for the preservation and identification of archaeological features. The scientific potential of the illustrated analysis fits perfectly with the current delicate needs of cultural heritage; such analysis demonstrates how multi-temporal and multi-data cultural heritage monitoring can be applied not only for documentation purposes, but can be addressed especially to those areas exposed to threats of different nature that require a constant and prompt intervention plans.
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