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Article

Detecting Change at Archaeological Sites in North Africa Using Open-Source Satellite Imagery

1
School of History, Classics and Archaeology, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 7RU, UK
2
School of Archaeology and Ancient History, University of Leicester, Leicester LE1 7RH, UK
3
Department of Antiquities, Hun, Libya
4
Faculty of Arts, Az-Zaytuna University, 325 As-Salam Street, Tarhuna, Libya
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Remote Sens. 2020, 12(22), 3694; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs12223694
Received: 5 October 2020 / Revised: 8 November 2020 / Accepted: 9 November 2020 / Published: 11 November 2020
Our paper presents a remote sensing workflow for identifying modern activities that threaten archaeological sites, developed as part of the work of the Endangered Archaeology of the Middle East and North Africa (EAMENA) project. We use open-source Sentinel-2 satellite imagery and the free tool Google Earth Engine to run a per-pixel change detection to make the methods and data as accessible as possible for heritage professionals. We apply this and perform validation at two case studies, the Aswan and Kom-Ombo area in Egypt, and the Jufra oases in Libya, with an overall accuracy of the results ranging from 85–91%. Human activities, such as construction, agriculture, rubbish dumping and natural processes were successfully detected at archaeological sites by the algorithm, allowing these sites to be prioritised for recording. A few instances of change too small to be detected by Sentinel-2 were missed, and false positives were caused by registration errors, shadow and movements of sand. This paper shows that the expansion of agricultural and urban areas particularly threatens the survival of archaeological sites, but our extensive online database of archaeological sites and programme of training courses places us in a unique position to make our methods widely available. View Full-Text
Keywords: archaeology; change detection; North Africa; Libya; Egypt; Google Earth Engine archaeology; change detection; North Africa; Libya; Egypt; Google Earth Engine
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MDPI and ACS Style

Rayne, L.; Gatto, M.C.; Abdulaati, L.; Al-Haddad, M.; Sterry, M.; Sheldrick, N.; Mattingly, D. Detecting Change at Archaeological Sites in North Africa Using Open-Source Satellite Imagery. Remote Sens. 2020, 12, 3694. https://doi.org/10.3390/rs12223694

AMA Style

Rayne L, Gatto MC, Abdulaati L, Al-Haddad M, Sterry M, Sheldrick N, Mattingly D. Detecting Change at Archaeological Sites in North Africa Using Open-Source Satellite Imagery. Remote Sensing. 2020; 12(22):3694. https://doi.org/10.3390/rs12223694

Chicago/Turabian Style

Rayne, Louise, Maria C. Gatto, Lamin Abdulaati, Muftah Al-Haddad, Martin Sterry, Nichole Sheldrick, and David Mattingly. 2020. "Detecting Change at Archaeological Sites in North Africa Using Open-Source Satellite Imagery" Remote Sensing 12, no. 22: 3694. https://doi.org/10.3390/rs12223694

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