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Special Issue "Advances in Remote Sensing for Archaeological Heritage"

A special issue of Remote Sensing (ISSN 2072-4292).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 June 2018)

Special Issue Editors

Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Diofantos G. Hadjimitsis

Vice Rector of Academic Affairs, Professor at the Department of Civil Engineering and Geomatics, Cyprus University of Techynology, Limassol, Cyprus
Website | E-Mail
Interests: earth observation; remote sensing; GIS; geo-information for natural and built environment; hazards
Guest Editor
Dr. Athos Agapiou

Department of Civil Engineering and Geomatics, Eratosthenes Research Centre Cyprus University of Technology, Limassol, Cyprus
Website | E-Mail
Interests: remote sensing archaeology; crop marks; fusion of remote sensing data; ground spectroscopy; archaeolandscape; big data
Guest Editor
Dr. Vasiliki Lysandrou

Department of Civil Engineering and Geomatics, Eratosthenes Research Centre, Cyprus University of Technology, Limassol, Cyprus
Website | E-Mail
Interests: satellite, aerial and terrestrial remote sensing technologies for built heritage and archaeological landscape; innovative surveying techniques for monitoring and valorization of cultural heritage monuments and sites

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The year 1999, when the launch of the first high resolution satellite sensor, IKONOS, was achieved, consisted of a landmark for the, henceforth, development of remote sensing and the ever-growing exploitation of its capabilities. During these 17 years, significant technological improvements have been made, both in space sensors, as well as in other non-contact remote sensing technologies, providing new tools for scientists to aid in archaeological research, as well as to analyze built heritage monuments and sites.

This Special Issue invites research and review articles related to current and novel practices of remote sensing and non-invasive investigation, analysis, and monitoring methods. The issue aims to cover existing research and future trends of remote sensing, covering the full spectrum of topics, techniques, time spans, and global applications, intended for archaeological heritage. Therefore, research related to the following (but not exhaustive list) topics is encouraged:

  • Sentinel and Copernicus data
  • Big Data for heritage applications
  • Object recognition, pattern analysis and image processing
  • Data fusion from new remote sensing sensors
  • Satellite based estimation of impact of climate changes on cultural heritage sites
  • Unmanned aerial vehicles and low altitude platforms
  • Monuments and sites, environmental monitoring and risk assessment
  • Thermal image prospection
  • Shallow underwater prospection
  • Field spectroscopy and spectral libraries

Prof. Diofantos Hadjimitsis
Dr. Athos Agapiou
Dr. Vasiliki Lysandrou
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Remote Sensing is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1800 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Archaeology
  • Ancient monuments
  • Archaeolandscapes
  • Satellite remote sensing
  • Terrestrial sensors
  • Data integration
  • Big Data

Published Papers (19 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle
An Overview of Innovative Heritage Deliverables Based on Remote Sensing Techniques
Remote Sens. 2018, 10(10), 1607; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs10101607
Received: 31 August 2018 / Revised: 27 September 2018 / Accepted: 7 October 2018 / Published: 10 October 2018
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Abstract
The documentation and information representation of heritage sites is rapidly evolving. With the advancements in remote sensing technology, increasingly more heritage projects look to integrate innovative sensor data into their workflows. Along with it, more complex analyses have become available which require highly [...] Read more.
The documentation and information representation of heritage sites is rapidly evolving. With the advancements in remote sensing technology, increasingly more heritage projects look to integrate innovative sensor data into their workflows. Along with it, more complex analyses have become available which require highly detailed inputs. However, there is a gap in the current body of knowledge of how to transfer the outputs from innovative data acquisition workflows to a set of useful deliverables that can be used for analysis. In addition, current procedures are often restricted by proprietary software or require field specific knowledge. As a result, more data are being generated in heritage projects but the tools to process them are lacking. In this work, we focus on methods that convert the raw information from the data acquisition to a set of realistic data representations of heritage objects. The goal is to present the industry with a series of practical solutions that integrate innovative technologies but still closely relate to the current heritage documentation workflows. An extensive literature study was performed discussing the different methods along with their advantages and opportunities. In the practical study, four deliverables were defined: the use of orthomosaics, web-based viewers, watertight mesh geometry and content for serious games. Each section is provided with a detailed overview of the process and realistic test cases that heritage experts can use as a basis for their own applications. The implementations are applicable to any project and provide the necessary information to update existing documentation workflows. Overall, the ideology is to increase the access to innovative technologies, better communicate the data to the different stakeholders and improve the overall usefulness of the information. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Remote Sensing for Archaeological Heritage)
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Open AccessArticle
Medieval Archaeology Under the Canopy with LiDAR. The (Re)Discovery of a Medieval Fortified Settlement in Southern Italy
Remote Sens. 2018, 10(10), 1598; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs10101598
Received: 19 August 2018 / Revised: 17 September 2018 / Accepted: 25 September 2018 / Published: 9 October 2018
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Abstract
Despite the recognized effectiveness of LiDAR in penetrating forest canopies, its capability for archaeological prospection can be strongly limited in areas covered by dense vegetation for the detection of subtle remains scattered over morphologically complex areas. In these cases, an important contribution to [...] Read more.
Despite the recognized effectiveness of LiDAR in penetrating forest canopies, its capability for archaeological prospection can be strongly limited in areas covered by dense vegetation for the detection of subtle remains scattered over morphologically complex areas. In these cases, an important contribution to improve the identification of topographic variations of archaeological interest is provided by LiDAR-derived models (LDMs) based on relief visualization techniques. In this paper, diverse LDMs were applied to the medieval site of Torre Cisterna to the north of Melfi (Southern Italy), selected for this study because it is located on a hilly area with complex topography and thick vegetation cover. These conditions are common in several places of the Apennines in Southern Italy and prevented investigations during the 20th century. Diverse LDMs were used to obtain maximum information and to compare the performance of both subjective (through visual inspections) and objective (through their automatic classification) methods. To improve the discrimination/extraction capability of archaeological micro-relief, noise filtering was applied to Digital Terrain Model (DTM) before obtaining the LDMs. The automatic procedure allowed us to extract the most significant and typical features of a fortified settlement, such as the city walls and a tower castle. Other small, subtle features attributable to possible buried buildings of a habitation area have been identified by visual inspection of LDMs. Field surveys and in-situ inspections were carried out to verify the archaeological points of interest, microtopographical features, and landforms observed from the DTM-derived models, most of them automatically extracted. As a whole, the investigations allowed (i) the rediscovery of a fortified settlement from the 11th century and (ii) the detection of an unknown urban area abandoned in the Middle Ages. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Remote Sensing for Archaeological Heritage)
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Thermal Imaging for the Archaeological Investigation of Historic Buildings
Remote Sens. 2018, 10(9), 1401; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs10091401
Received: 2 August 2018 / Revised: 23 August 2018 / Accepted: 27 August 2018 / Published: 3 September 2018
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Abstract
A significant problem in understanding the archaeology of standing buildings relates to the proscription to uncover features and structures within plastered and rendered walls due to the susceptibility and historic importance of such structures. Infrared thermography offers a method of visualization that is [...] Read more.
A significant problem in understanding the archaeology of standing buildings relates to the proscription to uncover features and structures within plastered and rendered walls due to the susceptibility and historic importance of such structures. Infrared thermography offers a method of visualization that is nondestructive and capable of revealing various types of archaeological anomaly that has been demonstrated on a small scale in the past. A passive infrared thermal camera is used to examine several historic buildings that are known or suspected to contain hidden archaeological information; the technique is also presented on complex, exposed historic building fabric. The results confirm that it is possible to detect various types of man-made anomaly and to differentiate building materials. In consequence, the use of passive thermal infrared imaging is shown to be a valuable tool in the examination and recording of historic buildings and structures. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Remote Sensing for Archaeological Heritage)
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Open AccessArticle
Integration of Low-Resolution ALS and Ground-Based SfM Photogrammetry Data. A Cost-Effective Approach Providing an ‘Enhanced 3D Model’ of the Hound Tor Archaeological Landscapes (Dartmoor, South-West England)
Remote Sens. 2018, 10(9), 1357; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs10091357
Received: 4 July 2018 / Revised: 15 August 2018 / Accepted: 24 August 2018 / Published: 26 August 2018
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (36079 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Airborne laser scanning (ALS) data is increasingly distributed freely for ever larger territories, albeit usually in only low resolution. This data source is extensively used in archaeology; however, various remains of past human activities are not recorded in sufficient detail, or are missing [...] Read more.
Airborne laser scanning (ALS) data is increasingly distributed freely for ever larger territories, albeit usually in only low resolution. This data source is extensively used in archaeology; however, various remains of past human activities are not recorded in sufficient detail, or are missing completely. The main purpose of this paper is to present a cost-effective approach providing reliable and accurate 3D documentation of the deserted medieval settlement of Hound Tor, a complex site consisting of preserved stone building walls and field system remains. The proposed procedure integrates ALS data with structure from motion (SfM) photogrammetry into a single data source (point cloud). Taking advantage of the benefits of both techniques (reclassified ALS data documents the hinterland, while SfM records the residential area in high detail), an enhanced 3D model has been created surpassing the available ALS data and reflecting the actual state of preserved features. The final outputs will help with the management of the site, its presentation to the general public, and also to enrich understanding of it. As both data sources are currently easily accessible and the proposed procedure has only limited budget requirements, it can be easily adopted and applied extensively (e.g., for virtual preservation of threatened complex sites and areas). Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Remote Sensing for Archaeological Heritage)
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Satellite Remote Sensing Analysis of the Qasrawet Archaeological Site in North Sinai
Remote Sens. 2018, 10(7), 1090; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs10071090
Received: 28 May 2018 / Revised: 28 June 2018 / Accepted: 5 July 2018 / Published: 9 July 2018
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Abstract
North Sinai is of significant historical interest primarily because of its role since late prehistoric times as a land bridge between Egypt and the Levant. Access to this region is challenging due to its harsh geography and security concerns. Remote sensing constitutes a [...] Read more.
North Sinai is of significant historical interest primarily because of its role since late prehistoric times as a land bridge between Egypt and the Levant. Access to this region is challenging due to its harsh geography and security concerns. Remote sensing constitutes a convenient method for archaeological prospection and monitoring over such regions with its low cost (relative to ground based sensing techniques), global coverage, and high temporal and spatial sampling. This paper describes part of a study to revisit a number of sites investigated during the North Sinai Survey (1972–1982) with very high resolution optical and Synthetic Aperture Radar satellite imagery. These were acquired throughout the summer of 2017 in the framework of a European Space Agency research project. The Synthetic Aperture Radar data includes Spotlight and Staring Spotlight modes of the TerraSAR-X mission, while the optical imagery was acquired by the Pleiades mission. The TerraSAR-X data were processed to derive filtered amplitude and consecutive coherence time series. The results of the TerraSAR-X data processing, and the pan-sharpened Pleiades data were compared with the results of the North Sinai Survey to detect possible additional buried structures in the radar data, or newly excavated sites in the optical data. While the analysis is still ongoing, results are reported here of the Qasrawet archaeological site, which was partially investigated by the North Sinai Survey expedition, but assumed to cover a much larger area. Herein, a number of newly excavated structures are apparent in the remote sensing data. The similarity of features in both the TerraSAR-X and Pleiades data suggest that all structures are surface residues, and therefore, that the subsurface mapping capabilities of the TerraSAR-X data in this area are limited. The utility of both data types for archaeological site monitoring are discussed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Remote Sensing for Archaeological Heritage)
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Open AccessArticle
A Seismic Capacity Evaluation Approach for Architectural Heritage Using Finite Element Analysis of Three-Dimensional Model: A Case Study of the Limestone Hall in the Ming Dynasty
Remote Sens. 2018, 10(6), 963; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs10060963
Received: 2 May 2018 / Revised: 28 May 2018 / Accepted: 13 June 2018 / Published: 15 June 2018
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (9275 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
A lot of architectural heritage in China are urgently in need to carry out seismic assessment for further conservation. In this paper, a seismic capacity evaluation approach for architectural heritage using finite element analysis with precision three-dimensional data was proposed. The Limestone Hall [...] Read more.
A lot of architectural heritage in China are urgently in need to carry out seismic assessment for further conservation. In this paper, a seismic capacity evaluation approach for architectural heritage using finite element analysis with precision three-dimensional data was proposed. The Limestone Hall of Shaanxi Province was taken as an example. First, low attitude unmanned aerial vehicle photogrammetry and a close-range photogrammetry camera were used to collect multiple view images to obtain the precision three-dimensional current model of the Limestone. Second, the dimensions of internal structures of Limestone Hall are obtained by means of structural analysis; re-establishing the ideal model of Limestone Hall based on the modeling software. Third, a finite element analysis was conducted to find out the natural frequency and seismic stress in various conditions with the 3D model using ANSYS software. Finally, the seismic capacity analysis results were comprehensively evaluated for the risk assessment and simulation. The results showed that for architectural heritage with a multilayer structure, utilizing photogrammetric surveying and mapping, 3D software modeling, finite element software simulation, and seismic evaluation for simulation was feasible where the precision of the modeling and parameters determine the accuracy of the simulation. The precise degree of the three-dimensional model, the accurate degree of parameter measurement and estimation, the setting of component attributes in the finite element model and the strategy of finite element analysis have an important effect on the result of seismic assessment. The main body structure of the Limestone Hall could resist an VII-degree earthquake at most, and the ridge of the second floor could not resist a V-degree earthquake due to unsupported conditions. The maximum deformation of the Limestone Hall during the earthquake occurred in the tabia layer below the second roof. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Remote Sensing for Archaeological Heritage)
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Open AccessArticle
Auto-Extraction of Linear Archaeological Traces of Tuntian Irrigation Canals in Miran Site (China) from Gaofen-1 Satellite Imagery
Remote Sens. 2018, 10(5), 718; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs10050718
Received: 3 April 2018 / Revised: 2 May 2018 / Accepted: 6 May 2018 / Published: 7 May 2018
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Abstract
This paper describes the use of the Chinese Gaofen-1 (GF-1) satellite imagery to automatically extract tertiary Linear Archaeological Traces of Tuntian Irrigation Canals (LATTICs) located in the Miran site. The site is adjacent to the ancient Loulan Kingdom at the eastern margin of [...] Read more.
This paper describes the use of the Chinese Gaofen-1 (GF-1) satellite imagery to automatically extract tertiary Linear Archaeological Traces of Tuntian Irrigation Canals (LATTICs) located in the Miran site. The site is adjacent to the ancient Loulan Kingdom at the eastern margin of the Taklimakan Desert in western China. GF-1 data were processed following atmospheric and geometric correction, and spectral analyses were carried out for multispectral data. The low values produced by spectral separability index (SSI) indicate that it is difficult to distinguish buried tertiary LATTICs from similar backgrounds using spectral signatures. Thus, based on the textual characteristics of high-resolution GF-1 panchromatic data, this paper proposes an automatic approach that combines joint morphological bottom and hat transformation with a Canny edge operator. The operator was improved by adding stages of geometric filtering and gradient vector direction analysis. Finally, the detected edges of tertiary LATTICs were extracted using the GIS-based draw tool and converted into shapefiles for archaeological mapping within a GIS environment. The proposed automatic approach was verified with an average accuracy of 95.76% for 754 tertiary LATTICs in the entire Miran site and compared with previous manual interpretation results. The results indicate that GF-1 VHR PAN imagery can successfully uncover the ancient tuntian agricultural landscape. Moreover, the proposed method can be generalized and applied to extract linear archaeological traces such as soil and crop marks in other geographic locations. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Remote Sensing for Archaeological Heritage)
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Open AccessArticle
Appraisal of Opportunities and Perspectives for the Systematic Condition Assessment of Heritage Sites with Copernicus Sentinel-2 High-Resolution Multispectral Imagery
Remote Sens. 2018, 10(4), 561; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs10040561
Received: 5 March 2018 / Revised: 20 March 2018 / Accepted: 23 March 2018 / Published: 5 April 2018
Cited by 6 | PDF Full-text (77576 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Very high-resolution (VHR) optical satellite imagery (≤5 m) is nowadays an established source of information to monitor cultural and archaeological heritage that is exposed to hazards and anthropogenic threats to their conservation, whereas few publications specifically investigate the role that regularly acquired images [...] Read more.
Very high-resolution (VHR) optical satellite imagery (≤5 m) is nowadays an established source of information to monitor cultural and archaeological heritage that is exposed to hazards and anthropogenic threats to their conservation, whereas few publications specifically investigate the role that regularly acquired images from high-resolution (HR) satellite sensors (5–30 m) may play in this application domain. This paper aims to appraise the potential of the multispectral constellation Sentinel-2 of the European Commission Earth observation programme Copernicus to detect prominent features and changes in heritage sites, during both ordinary times and crisis. We test the 10 m spatial resolution of the 3 visible spectral bands of Sentinel-2 for substantiation of single local events—that is, wall collapses in the UNESCO World Heritage site of the Old City of Aleppo (Syria)—and for hotspot mapping of recurrent incidents—that is, the archaeological looting in the archaeological site of Apamea (Syria). By screening long Sentinel-2 time series consisting of 114 images for Aleppo and 57 images for Apamea, we demonstrate that changes of textural properties and surface reflectance can be logged accurately in time and space and can be associated to events relevant for conservation. VHR imagery from Google Earth was used for the validation and identification of trends occurring prior to the Sentinel-2 launch. We also demonstrate how to exploit the Sentinel-2 short revisiting time (5 days) and large swath (290 km) for multi-temporal tracking of spatial patterns of urban sprawl across the cultural landscape of the World Heritage Site of Cyrene (Libya), and the three coastal ancient Greek sites of Tocra, Ptolemais, and Apollonia in Cyrenaica. With the future development of tailored machine learning approaches of feature extraction and pattern detection, Sentinel-2 can become extremely useful to screen wider regions with short revisiting times and to undertake comparative condition assessment analyses of different heritage sites. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Remote Sensing for Archaeological Heritage)
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle
An Objective Assessment of Hyperspectral Indicators for the Detection of Buried Archaeological Relics
Remote Sens. 2018, 10(4), 500; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs10040500
Received: 30 January 2018 / Revised: 19 March 2018 / Accepted: 20 March 2018 / Published: 22 March 2018
Cited by 6 | PDF Full-text (24874 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Hyperspectral images can highlight crop marks in vegetated areas, which may indicate the presence of underground buried structures, by exploiting the spectral information conveyed in reflected solar radiation. In recent years, different vegetation indices and several other image features have been used, with [...] Read more.
Hyperspectral images can highlight crop marks in vegetated areas, which may indicate the presence of underground buried structures, by exploiting the spectral information conveyed in reflected solar radiation. In recent years, different vegetation indices and several other image features have been used, with varying success, to improve the interpretation of remotely sensed images for archaeological research. However, it is difficult to assess the derived maps quantitatively and select the most meaningful one for a given task, in particular for a non-specialist in image processing. This paper estimates for the first time objectively the suitability of maps derived from spectral features for the detection of buried archaeological structures in vegetated areas based on information theory. This is achieved by computing the statistical dependence between the extracted features and a digital map indicating the presence of buried structures using information theoretical notions. Based on the obtained scores on known targets, the features can be ranked and the most suitable can be chosen to aid in the discovery of previously undetected crop marks in the area under similar conditions. Three case studies are reported: the Roman buried remains of Carnuntum (Austria), the underground structures of Selinunte in the South of Italy, and the buried street relics of Pherai (Velestino) in central Greece. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Remote Sensing for Archaeological Heritage)
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Open AccessArticle
Assessment of the Structural Integrity of the Roman Bridge of Alcántara (Spain) Using TLS and GPR
Remote Sens. 2018, 10(3), 387; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs10030387
Received: 16 December 2017 / Revised: 10 February 2018 / Accepted: 27 February 2018 / Published: 2 March 2018
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (9790 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The Roman bridge of Alcántara is the largest in Spain. Its preservation is of the utmost importance and to this end different aspects must be studied. The most prominent is the assessment of its structure, and this is especially important as the bridge [...] Read more.
The Roman bridge of Alcántara is the largest in Spain. Its preservation is of the utmost importance and to this end different aspects must be studied. The most prominent is the assessment of its structure, and this is especially important as the bridge remains in use. This paper documents the way the assessment of structural safety was carried out. The assessment methodology of existing structures was applied. The preliminary assessment was based on bibliographic data and non-destructive techniques. The geometric data of the bridge were obtained by Terrestrial Laser Scanning (TLS), which made possible the analysis of its deformations and assessment of its structure. Ground-Penetrating Radar (GPR) was also used with different antennae to work at different depths and spatial resolutions with the aim of analysing structural elements. From the above information, the assessment of structural safety was made using the limit analysis method by applying the historical works carried out on it and those described in the regulation of obligatory compliance in Spain (IAP11), studying the sensitivity of safety to the most relevant parameters. The state of preservation and structural integrity of the bridge is discussed and conclusions are drawn on the areas of greatest risk and the bases for the following assessment phase of preservation of the bridge. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Remote Sensing for Archaeological Heritage)
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Open AccessArticle
Remote Sensing and Geo-Archaeological Data: Inland Water Studies for the Conservation of Underwater Cultural Heritage in the Ferrara District, Italy
Remote Sens. 2018, 10(3), 380; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs10030380
Received: 26 December 2017 / Revised: 25 January 2018 / Accepted: 10 February 2018 / Published: 1 March 2018
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (13818 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
In the southern area of the Ferrara District, Italy, remote sensing investigations associated with geo-archaeological drilling in underwater archaeological studies, have helped to broad our understanding of the historical evolution and cultural heritage of inland waterways. In working on prototype sites, we have [...] Read more.
In the southern area of the Ferrara District, Italy, remote sensing investigations associated with geo-archaeological drilling in underwater archaeological studies, have helped to broad our understanding of the historical evolution and cultural heritage of inland waterways. In working on prototype sites, we have taken a multidisciplinary approach of surveillance and preventive archaeology, and have collaborated with archaeologists, geologists, hydro-biologists, and engineers. In this area of research, often lakes, lagoons, and rivers are characterized by low visibility. Some Quaternary events have deeply modified Ferrara’s landscape. Analysis of preserved samples from micro-drillings, underwater direct and indirect surveys, and the cataloguing of historical artefacts, are giving to the researchers a remarkable ancient chronology line. Recent studies confirmed anthropization sequences from the 1st Century B.C. to the 6th Century A.D. Waterscape archaeology, a multidisciplinary science devoted to the study of the human use of wetlands and anthropological connection with the water environment, testifies the ways in which people, in the past, constructed and used the water environment. In this article, we describe underwater cultural heritage research using 3D side scan sonar surveys and artifacts analysis, comparing data from direct diving investigations and stratigraphic data from micro-geological drillings on sites of Lago Tramonto, Gambulaga, Portomaggiore (Ferrara). Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Remote Sensing for Archaeological Heritage)
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Open AccessArticle
The Archaeology and Remote Sensing of Santa Elena’s Four Millennia of Occupation
Remote Sens. 2018, 10(2), 248; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs10020248
Received: 10 January 2018 / Revised: 27 January 2018 / Accepted: 2 February 2018 / Published: 6 February 2018
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (77609 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
In this study, we present the results of a comprehensive, landscape-scale remote sensing project at Santa Elena on Parris Island, South Carolina. Substantial occupation at the site extends for over 4000 years and has resulted in a complex array of features dating to [...] Read more.
In this study, we present the results of a comprehensive, landscape-scale remote sensing project at Santa Elena on Parris Island, South Carolina. Substantial occupation at the site extends for over 4000 years and has resulted in a complex array of features dating to different time periods. In addition, there is a 40-year history of archaeological research at the site that includes a large-scale systematic shovel test survey, large block excavations, and scattered test units. Also, modern use of the site included significant alterations to the subsurface deposits. Our goals for this present work are threefold: (1) to explicitly present a logical approach to examine sites with long-term occupations; (2) to examine changes in land use at Santa Elena and its implications for human occupation of this persistent place; and (3) to use the remote sensing program and past archaeological research to make substantive suggestions regarding future research, conservation, and management of the site. Our research provides important insight into the distribution of cultural features at this National Historic Landmark. While the majority of archaeological research at the site has focused on the Spanish period, our work suggests a complex and vast array of archaeological features that can provide insight into over 4000 years of history in the region. At a gross level, we have identified possible Late Archaic structures, Woodland houses and features, Late Prehistoric and early Historic council houses, and a suite of features related to the Spanish occupation which builds on our previous research at the site. In addition to documenting possible cultural features at the site, our work illustrates the value of multiple remote sensing techniques used in conjunction with close-interval shovel test data. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Remote Sensing for Archaeological Heritage)
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Open AccessArticle
Identification of Leveled Archeological Mounds (Höyük) in the Alluvial Plain of the Ceyhan River (Southern Turkey) by Satellite Remote-Sensing Analyses
Remote Sens. 2018, 10(2), 241; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs10020241
Received: 22 December 2017 / Revised: 26 January 2018 / Accepted: 4 February 2018 / Published: 5 February 2018
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (4716 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The alluvial plain of the Ceyhan River (SE Turkey) has been populated since the Neolithic. In 1954, Marjory Veronica Seton-Williams described for this area several archeological mounds (höyük), which are the remains of ancient settlements. Today, according to the archeological research carried out [...] Read more.
The alluvial plain of the Ceyhan River (SE Turkey) has been populated since the Neolithic. In 1954, Marjory Veronica Seton-Williams described for this area several archeological mounds (höyük), which are the remains of ancient settlements. Today, according to the archeological research carried out in the area, some of these mounds result to have been leveled by agricultural activities. In this work, we identified many color anomalies by low-cost remote-sensing analyses of satellite images. We checked the nature of these anomalies in a dedicated survey and we found a good correspondence between color anomalies and archeological remains consistent with leveled höyük. We compared the grain size and chemical characteristics of the soil collected inside the color anomalies with the soil collected in other areas of the alluvial plain. We found irrelevant differences in grain-size characteristics, but a higher content of CaCO3 in soils collected inside the anomalies with respect to those collected outside. Therefore, the content of CaCO3 could be considered the feature that makes the color anomalies visible. The reason for this higher content of CaCO3 is related to the anthropogenic material used in the different phases of höyük growth. This work suggests a low-cost analysis useful for rapid identification and preservation of archeological information on the history of Mediterranean settlement. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Remote Sensing for Archaeological Heritage)
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Open AccessArticle
Detecting Neolithic Burial Mounds from LiDAR-Derived Elevation Data Using a Multi-Scale Approach and Machine Learning Techniques
Remote Sens. 2018, 10(2), 225; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs10020225
Received: 22 December 2017 / Revised: 20 January 2018 / Accepted: 28 January 2018 / Published: 1 February 2018
Cited by 8 | PDF Full-text (18083 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Airborne LiDAR technology is widely used in archaeology and over the past decade has emerged as an accurate tool to describe anthropomorphic landforms. Archaeological features are traditionally emphasised on a LiDAR-derived Digital Terrain Model (DTM) using multiple Visualisation Techniques (VTs), and occasionally aided [...] Read more.
Airborne LiDAR technology is widely used in archaeology and over the past decade has emerged as an accurate tool to describe anthropomorphic landforms. Archaeological features are traditionally emphasised on a LiDAR-derived Digital Terrain Model (DTM) using multiple Visualisation Techniques (VTs), and occasionally aided by automated feature detection or classification techniques. Such an approach offers limited results when applied to heterogeneous structures (different sizes, morphologies), which is often the case for archaeological remains that have been altered throughout the ages. This study proposes to overcome these limitations by developing a multi-scale analysis of topographic position combined with supervised machine learning algorithms (Random Forest). Rather than highlighting individual topographic anomalies, the multi-scalar approach allows archaeological features to be examined not only as individual objects, but within their broader spatial context. This innovative and straightforward method provides two levels of results: a composite image of topographic surface structure and a probability map of the presence of archaeological structures. The method was developed to detect and characterise megalithic funeral structures in the region of Carnac, the Bay of Quiberon, and the Gulf of Morbihan (France), which is currently considered for inclusion on the UNESCO World Heritage List. As a result, known archaeological sites have successfully been geo-referenced with a greater accuracy than before (even when located under dense vegetation) and a ground-check confirmed the identification of a previously unknown Neolithic burial mound in the commune of Carnac. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Remote Sensing for Archaeological Heritage)
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Open AccessArticle
Structural Assessment via Ground Penetrating Radar at the Consoli Palace of Gubbio (Italy)
Remote Sens. 2018, 10(1), 45; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs10010045
Received: 15 November 2017 / Revised: 13 December 2017 / Accepted: 21 December 2017 / Published: 28 December 2017
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Abstract
Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) is a flexible and cost-effective tool for performing structural integrity assessment and quick damage evaluation of manmade structures, including cultural heritage (CH) assets. In this context, this paper deals with the usefulness of GPR surveys enhanced by the use [...] Read more.
Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) is a flexible and cost-effective tool for performing structural integrity assessment and quick damage evaluation of manmade structures, including cultural heritage (CH) assets. In this context, this paper deals with the usefulness of GPR surveys enhanced by the use of a Microwave Tomographic data processing approach as a methodology for the diagnosis and monitoring of CH exposed to climate events and natural hazards. Specifically, the paper reports on the results of a measurement campaign carried out at the Loggia of the Consoli Palace of Gubbio (Italy). These results allowed us to increase our knowledge of the architecture of the surveyed zones and their structural hazards. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Remote Sensing for Archaeological Heritage)
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Open AccessArticle
Moving from Space-Based to Ground-Based Solutions in Remote Sensing for Archaeological Heritage: A Case Study from Egypt
Remote Sens. 2017, 9(12), 1297; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs9121297
Received: 5 November 2017 / Revised: 23 November 2017 / Accepted: 7 December 2017 / Published: 12 December 2017
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Abstract
This paper evaluates the results of a 2016 study examining high-resolution open-source satellite data from 2002–2013 for sites across Egypt that mapped looting and site encroachment. The author features a looted tripartite coffin (now returned to Egypt) to suggest how satellite imagery might [...] Read more.
This paper evaluates the results of a 2016 study examining high-resolution open-source satellite data from 2002–2013 for sites across Egypt that mapped looting and site encroachment. The author features a looted tripartite coffin (now returned to Egypt) to suggest how satellite imagery might narrow down or provide the general provenience of looted objects and their possible site origins. Mapping where looting has occurred, the intensity of the looting, and emerging future threats to sites are important, but there is no established method at present to work backwards from unprovenanced looted items. Through an assessment of when objects enter countries illegally, the time-period of the looted objects, and an analysis of satellite imagery looting data concerning their country of origin, it is possible to suggest a potential provenance for looted objects. This approach shows how satellite data can be integrated into traditional provenance research. This study presents a workflow for how other projects might utilize a similar approach in other countries. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Remote Sensing for Archaeological Heritage)
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Open AccessArticle
A Microtopographic Feature Analysis-Based LiDAR Data Processing Approach for the Identification of Chu Tombs
Remote Sens. 2017, 9(9), 880; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs9090880
Received: 3 July 2017 / Revised: 10 August 2017 / Accepted: 18 August 2017 / Published: 24 August 2017
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (10460 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Most of the cultural sites hidden under dense vegetation in the mountains of China have been destroyed. In this paper, we present a microtopographic feature analysis (MFA)-based Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) data processing approach and an archaeological pattern-oriented point cloud segmentation (APoPCS) [...] Read more.
Most of the cultural sites hidden under dense vegetation in the mountains of China have been destroyed. In this paper, we present a microtopographic feature analysis (MFA)-based Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) data processing approach and an archaeological pattern-oriented point cloud segmentation (APoPCS) algorithm that we developed for the classification of archaeological objects and terrain points and the detection of archaeological remains. The archaeological features and patterns are interpreted and extracted from LiDAR point cloud data to construct an archaeological object pattern database. A microtopographic factor is calculated based on the archaeological object patterns, and this factor converts the massive point cloud data into a raster feature image. A fuzzy clustering algorithm based on the archaeological object patterns is presented for raster feature image segmentation and the detection of archaeological remains. Using the proposed approach, we investigated four typical areas with different types of Chu tombs in Central China, which had dense vegetation and high population densities. Our research results show that the proposed LiDAR data processing approach can identify archaeological remains from large-volume and massive LiDAR data, as well as in areas with dense vegetation and trees. The studies of different archaeological object patterns are important for improving the robustness of the proposed APoPCS algorithm for the extraction of archaeological remains. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Remote Sensing for Archaeological Heritage)
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Open AccessArticle
Statistical Comparison between Low-Cost Methods for 3D Characterization of Cut-Marks on Bones
Remote Sens. 2017, 9(9), 873; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs9090873
Received: 22 June 2017 / Revised: 3 August 2017 / Accepted: 18 August 2017 / Published: 23 August 2017
Cited by 15 | PDF Full-text (5301 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
In recent years, new techniques for the morphological study of cut marks have become essential for the interpretation of prehistoric butchering practices. Different criteria have been suggested for the description and classification of cut marks. The methods commonly used for the study of [...] Read more.
In recent years, new techniques for the morphological study of cut marks have become essential for the interpretation of prehistoric butchering practices. Different criteria have been suggested for the description and classification of cut marks. The methods commonly used for the study of cut marks rely on high-cost microscopy techniques with low portability (i.e., inability to work in situ), such as the 3D digital microscope (3D DM) or laser scanning confocal microscopy (LSCM). Recently, new algorithmic developments in the field of computer vision and photogrammetry, have achieved very high precision and resolution, offering a portable and low-cost alternative to microscopic techniques. However, the photogrammetric techniques present some disadvantages, such as longer data collection and processing time, and the requirement of some photogrammetric expertise for the calibration of the cameras and the acquisition of precise image orientation. In this paper, we compare two low-cost techniques and their application to cut mark studies: the micro-photogrammetry (M-PG) technique presented, developed, and validated previously, and a methodology based on the use of a structured light scanner (SLS). A total of 47 experimental cut marks, produced using a stainless steel knife, were analyzed. The data registered through virtual reconstruction was analyzed by means of three-dimensional geometric morphometrics (GMM). Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Remote Sensing for Archaeological Heritage)
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Review

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Open AccessReview
Google Earth as a Powerful Tool for Archaeological and Cultural Heritage Applications: A Review
Remote Sens. 2018, 10(10), 1558; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs10101558
Received: 30 August 2018 / Revised: 20 September 2018 / Accepted: 26 September 2018 / Published: 28 September 2018
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (7979 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Google Earth (GE), a large Earth-observation data-based geographical information computer application, is an intuitive three-dimensional virtual globe. It enables archaeologists around the world to communicate and share their multisource data and research findings. Different from traditional geographical information systems (GIS), GE is free [...] Read more.
Google Earth (GE), a large Earth-observation data-based geographical information computer application, is an intuitive three-dimensional virtual globe. It enables archaeologists around the world to communicate and share their multisource data and research findings. Different from traditional geographical information systems (GIS), GE is free and easy to use in data collection, exploration, and visualization. In the past decade, many peer-reviewed articles on the use of GE in the archaeological cultural heritage (ACH) research field have been published. Most of these concern specific ACH investigations with a wide spatial coverage. GE can often be used to survey and document ACH so that both skilled archaeologists and the public can more easily and intuitively understand the results. Based on geographical tools and multi-temporal very high-resolution (VHR) satellite imagery, GE has been shown to provide spatio-temporal change information that has a bearing on the physical, environmental, and geographical character of ACH. In this review, in order to discuss the huge potential of GE, a comprehensive review of GE and its applications to ACH in the published scientific literature is first presented; case studies in five main research fields demonstrating how GE can be deployed as a key tool for studying ACH are then described. The selected case studies illustrate how GE can be used effectively to investigate ACH at multiple scales, discover new archaeological sites in remote regions, monitor historical sites, and assess damage in areas of conflict, and promote virtual tourism. These examples form the basis for highlighting current trends in remote sensing archaeology based on the GE platform, which could provide access to a low-cost and easy-to-use tool for communicating and sharing ACH geospatial data more effectively to the general public in the era of Digital Earth. Finally, a discussion of the merits and limitations of GE is presented along with conclusions and remaining challenges. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Remote Sensing for Archaeological Heritage)
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