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Special Issue "Geophysics and Remote Sensing in Archaeology and Monumental Heritage"

A special issue of Sensors (ISSN 1424-8220). This special issue belongs to the section "Remote Sensors".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 December 2019).

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Giovanni Leucci
Website
Guest Editor
Istituto di Scienze del Patrimonio Culturale, Institute of Cultural Heritage Sciences and Sites (ISPC), Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche, National Research Council (CNR), 73100 Lecce, Italy
Interests: geophysics; GPR; ERT; magnetometry; seismic
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals
Prof. Raffaele Persico
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Guest Editor
Dipartimento di Ingegneria dell’Ambiente – DIAm, Via Pietro Bucci, 87036 - Arcavacata di Rende (CS), Italy
Interests: remote sensing; earth sciences; geophysics; applied geophysics; scattering; inversion; remote sensing applications; antennas; inverse problems; ground penetrating radar; radar systems
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals
Dr. Lara De Giorgi
Website
Guest Editor
Institute of Cultural Heritage Sciences (ISPC) – National Research Council (CNR), Lecce, Italy
Interests: applied geophysics; 4D data modelling
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

High-resolution remote sensing techniques provide multiscale and multitemporal approaches in the study of ancient settlements and landscapes and in the reconstruction of their development over centuries.

Nowadays, research in landscape archaeology requires the integration of different techniques of high-resolution remote sensing: satellite (optical and radar data), aerial (photos, IR, and Lidar data) from airplanes and UAVs, and ground (the integration of different geophysical techniques, field walking, and DGPS topographical surveys).

This SI aims to introduce field surveys, integrations, and analyses of geo-archaeological data for the study of archaeological sites in order to improve our knowledge of the investigated area related to both historical reconstruction and the production of tools for preventive archaeology and the preservation of archaeological and monumental heritage (for this last task, non-invasive diagnosis through micro-geophysics is also very useful).

Topics:

- Satellite remote sensing for archaeology using optical and radar data: new perspectives, semiautomatic and automatic approaches for extracting cultural information, and the study of the interconnections between environmental changes and dynamics of human frequentation;

 - Aerial archaeology: from historical and traditional air-photos to IR and Lidar data;

 - The integration of ground remote sensing techniques (geophysical prospecting) and field walking and DGPS topographical surveys for the study of ancient settlements and landscapes;

 - The integration of non-invasive methods for the preservation and protection of monumental heritage (micro-geophysics);

 - Integrated geophysical methods in archaeological sites;

 - Ancient extreme events in the geo-archaeological record, as floods, landslides, earthquakes, and tsunamis.

Dr. Giovanni Leucci
Dr. Raffaele Persico
Dr. Lara De Giorgi
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2000 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

  • Geophysics
  • Remote sensing
  • Archaeology
  • Monumental heritage

Published Papers (11 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle
Assessing the Influence of Buried Archaeology on Equine Locomotion Comparison with Ground Penetrating Radar Results
Sensors 2020, 20(10), 2938; https://doi.org/10.3390/s20102938 - 22 May 2020
Abstract
The aim of this trial project was to identify whether buried archaeological remains may have an influence on equine locomotion, through comparison with a non-invasive Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) survey. This study was conducted at the world-renowned Burghley Horse Trials site, near Stamford, [...] Read more.
The aim of this trial project was to identify whether buried archaeological remains may have an influence on equine locomotion, through comparison with a non-invasive Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) survey. This study was conducted at the world-renowned Burghley Horse Trials site, near Stamford, City of Peterborough, U.K. that has a diverse range of heritage assets throughout the wider park land centred on the Grade 1 listed Elizabethan Burghley House. The initial aim of the research was to first use geophysical survey to identify and characterise archaeological remains, and then to determine a suitable location to conduct an equine locomotion study. This trial was conducted with five event type horses with their gaits recorded through the use of three axis, wireless, Inertial Measurement Units, and high speed video capture. It was hoped that this study might indicate an association between the presence of well preserved archaeological remains and changes in the gait of the horses, similar to those shown by studies of dressage horses over different riding surfaces. The results from the equine locomotion study did demonstrate a correlation between the presence of surviving archaeological remains and the alteration in the horses’ gait and, although this is only a preliminary study, the results may well be of interest during the design and construction of equine event facilities. Geophysical survey could, for example, be considered during the design of new or alteration to existing equine courses to allow some mitigation in the location of the course with respect to any archaeological remains, or through the appropriate use of a protective artificial surface. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Geophysics and Remote Sensing in Archaeology and Monumental Heritage)
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Open AccessArticle
Feasibility Assessments Using Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Technology in Heritage Buildings: Rehabilitation-Restoration, Spatial Analysis and Tourism Potential Analysis
Sensors 2020, 20(7), 2054; https://doi.org/10.3390/s20072054 - 06 Apr 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
The Transylvanian region of Romania is a place of rich history since ancient times, where the original natural environment around architectural heritage sites or buildings has not been severely altered by urban development. Unfortunately, many such places are left by the authorities to [...] Read more.
The Transylvanian region of Romania is a place of rich history since ancient times, where the original natural environment around architectural heritage sites or buildings has not been severely altered by urban development. Unfortunately, many such places are left by the authorities to degrade or totally collapse for lack of funds, vision or initiatives. The current paper addresses the potential of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) in the assessment of a viable and feasible prospect of restoration on a 19th century mansion that belonged to a nobiliary family. UAV use is rising in many industries and has become very popular in the last decade, but for survey engineering and related domains they represent a quantum leap in technology. Integrating UAV-acquired data and structure from motion software, has enabled modern techniques to obtain useful metrics from the field, accurate photorealistic 3D models for visual inspection, structural damage analyses, architectural rehabilitation-restoration, conservation and spatial analysis of the surrounding area. In this work a socio-cultural planning and design process is explored and presented to improve the local community and inclusion in a tourist circuit based on the regional potential, as well as an evaluation of accessibility derived from a vector-raster database that highlights the central position of the cultural heritage in regards to the axis of circulation between the important metropolitan areas and the local tourist attractions. This established workflow of modern topographic and construction measurements is fully integrable into the architectural process, building information modelling, heritage conservation and reconstruction. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Geophysics and Remote Sensing in Archaeology and Monumental Heritage)
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Open AccessArticle
Integrated Geophysics and Geomatics Surveys in the Valley of the Kings
Sensors 2020, 20(6), 1552; https://doi.org/10.3390/s20061552 - 11 Mar 2020
Cited by 2
Abstract
Recent results within the framework of the collaborative project The Complete Geophysical Survey of the Valley of the Kings (VOK) (Luxor, Egypt) are reported in this article. In October 2018, a team of geomatics and geophysics researchers coordinated by the Polytechnic University of [...] Read more.
Recent results within the framework of the collaborative project The Complete Geophysical Survey of the Valley of the Kings (VOK) (Luxor, Egypt) are reported in this article. In October 2018, a team of geomatics and geophysics researchers coordinated by the Polytechnic University of Turin worked side by side in the VOK. Topographic measurements in support of geophysical surveys and the achievement of a very large-scale 3D map of the Eastern VOK were the two main objectives of the geomatics campaign. Innovative 3D metric technologies and methods, based on terrestrial laser scanning (both static and mobile) and close-range photogrammetry were employed by the Geomatics team. The geophysical campaign focused on the acquisition of Electrical Resistivity Tomography (ERT), Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) and high spatial density Geomagnetic (GM) data. ERT new data around KV62, both inverted in 2D sections and added to the previous ones to perform a new global 3D inversion, confirm the previous results showing both conductive and resistive anomalies that have to be explained. GPR timeslices showed some interesting features in the area in front of the KV2 entrance where GM gradient map also presents localized anomalies. In the area SSW of the KV2 the GM gradient maps evidenced also a large semicircular anomaly which, up to now, has no explanation. The potentialities of using magnetic techniques as a complement to other non-invasive techniques in the search for structures of archeological significance have been explored. The application of modern and innovative methods of 3D metric survey enabled to achieve a complete 3D mapping of what is currently visible in the valley. The integration of 2D/3D mapping data concerning visible elements and hypothetical anomalies, together with the recovering in the same global reference system of underground documentation pertaining to the Theban Mapping Project, prefigure the enhancement of multi-temporal site representation. This strategy enables the fruition development of the already discovered archaeological heritage, using modern criteria of valorization and conservation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Geophysics and Remote Sensing in Archaeology and Monumental Heritage)
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Open AccessArticle
Geomorphometric Methods for Burial Mound Recognition and Extraction from High-Resolution LiDAR DEMs
Sensors 2020, 20(4), 1192; https://doi.org/10.3390/s20041192 - 21 Feb 2020
Cited by 2
Abstract
Archaeological topography identification from high-resolution DEMs (Digital Elevation Models) is a current method that is used with high success in archaeological prospecting of wide areas. I present a methodology through which burial mounds (tumuli) from LiDAR (Light Detection And Ranging) DEMS can be [...] Read more.
Archaeological topography identification from high-resolution DEMs (Digital Elevation Models) is a current method that is used with high success in archaeological prospecting of wide areas. I present a methodology through which burial mounds (tumuli) from LiDAR (Light Detection And Ranging) DEMS can be identified. This methodology uses geomorphometric and statistical methods to identify with high accuracy burial mound candidates. Peaks, defined as local elevation maxima are found as a first step. In the second step, local convexity watershed segments and their seeds are compared with positions of local peaks and the peaks that correspond or have in vicinity local convexity segments seeds are selected. The local convexity segments that correspond to these selected peaks are further fed to a Random Forest algorithm together with shape descriptors and descriptive statistics of geomorphometric variables in order to build a model for the classification. Multiple approaches to tune and select the proper training dataset, settings, and variables were tested. The validation of the model was performed on the full dataset where the training was performed and on an external dataset in order to test the usability of the method for other areas in a similar geomorphological and archaeological setting. The validation was performed against manually mapped, and field checked burial mounds from two neighbor study areas of 100 km2 each. The results show that by training the Random Forest on a dataset composed of between 75% and 100% of the segments corresponding to burial mounds and ten times more non-burial mounds segments selected using Latin hypercube sampling, 93% of the burial mound segments from the external dataset are identified. There are 42 false positive cases that need to be checked, and there are two burial mound segments missed. The method shows great promise to be used for burial mound detection on wider areas by delineating a certain number of tumuli mounds for model training. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Geophysics and Remote Sensing in Archaeology and Monumental Heritage)
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Open AccessArticle
Using Ground Penetrating Radar to Reveal Hidden Archaeology: The Case Study of the Württemberg-Stambol Gate in Belgrade (Serbia)
Sensors 2020, 20(3), 607; https://doi.org/10.3390/s20030607 - 22 Jan 2020
Abstract
This paper presents the results of a research study where ground penetrating radar (GPR) was successfully used to reveal the remains of the Württemberg-Stambol Gate in the subsurface of Republic Square, in Belgrade, Serbia. GPR investigations were carried out in the context of [...] Read more.
This paper presents the results of a research study where ground penetrating radar (GPR) was successfully used to reveal the remains of the Württemberg-Stambol Gate in the subsurface of Republic Square, in Belgrade, Serbia. GPR investigations were carried out in the context of renovation works in the square, which involved rearranging traffic control, expanding the pedestrian zone, renewing the surface layer, and valorising existing archaeological structures. The presence of the gate remains was suggested by historical documents and information from previous restoration works. A pulsed radar unit was used for the survey, with antennas having 200- and 400-MHz central frequencies. Data were recorded over a grid and two three-dimensional models were built, one for each set of antennas. The grid was the same for both sets of antennas, therefore the two models could be compared. Several horizontal cross sections of the models were plotted, corresponding to different depths; these images were carefully examined and interpreted, paying particular attention to signatures that could originate from the sought archaeological structures. Reflections coming from the gate remains were identified in both models, in the same region of the survey area and at the same depth; the geometry, size, and layout of the gate columns, as well as of other construction elements belonging to the gate, were determined with very good accuracy. Based on the GPR findings, archaeological excavation works were carried out in the region where the foundation remains were estimated to be. The presence of the remains was confirmed, with various columns and side walls. This case study demonstrates and further corroborates the effectiveness and reliability of GPR for the non-invasive prospection of archaeological structures hidden in the heterogeneous subsurface of urban environments. In the opinion of the authors, GPR should be incorporated as a routine field procedure in construction and renovation projects involving historical cities. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Geophysics and Remote Sensing in Archaeology and Monumental Heritage)
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Open AccessArticle
Potential of Virtual Earth Observation Constellations in Archaeological Research
Sensors 2019, 19(19), 4066; https://doi.org/10.3390/s19194066 - 20 Sep 2019
Cited by 9
Abstract
Earth observation sensors continually provide datasets with different spectral and spatial characteristics, while a series of pre- and postprocessing techniques are needed for calibration purposes. Nowadays, a variety of satellite images have become accessible to researchers, while big data cloud platforms allow them [...] Read more.
Earth observation sensors continually provide datasets with different spectral and spatial characteristics, while a series of pre- and postprocessing techniques are needed for calibration purposes. Nowadays, a variety of satellite images have become accessible to researchers, while big data cloud platforms allow them to deal with an extensive number of datasets. However, there is still difficulty related to these sensors meeting specific needs and challenges such as those of cultural heritage and supporting archaeological research world-wide. The harmonization and synergistic use of different sensors can be used in order to maximize the impact of earth observation sensors and enhance their benefit to the scientific community. In this direction, the Committee on Earth Observation Satellites (CEOS) has proposed the concept of virtual constellations, which is defined as “a coordinated set of space and/or ground segment capabilities from different partners that focuses on observing a particular parameter or set of parameters of the Earth system”. This paper provides an overview of existing and future earth observation sensors, the various levels of interoperability as proposed by Wulder et al., and presents some preliminary results from the Thessalian plain in Greece using integrated optical and radar Sentinel images. The potential for archaeolandscape studies using virtual constellations is discussed here. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Geophysics and Remote Sensing in Archaeology and Monumental Heritage)
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Open AccessArticle
3D Virtual Reconstruction of the Ancient Roman Incile of the Fucino Lake
Sensors 2019, 19(16), 3505; https://doi.org/10.3390/s19163505 - 10 Aug 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
The construction of the artificial emissary of Fucino Lake is one of the most ambitious engineering buildings of antiquity. It was the longest tunnel ever made until the 19th century and, due to the depth of the adduction inlet, it required a monumental [...] Read more.
The construction of the artificial emissary of Fucino Lake is one of the most ambitious engineering buildings of antiquity. It was the longest tunnel ever made until the 19th century and, due to the depth of the adduction inlet, it required a monumental and complex incile, which, for functionality, cannot be compared to other ancient emissaries. The Roman emissary and its "incile" (Latin name of the inlet structure) were almost completely destroyed in the 19th century, when Fucino Lake was finally dried. Today, only few auxiliary structures such as wells, tunnels, and winzes remain of this ancient work. As evidence of the ancient incile remains a description made by those who also destroyed it and some drawings made by travelers who, on various occasions, visited the site. This paper presents a virtual reconstruction of the Roman incile, obtained both through the philological study of the known documentation, interpreting iconographic sources that represent the last evidence of this structure, and through the survey on the territory. The main purpose is to understand its technical functionalities, the original structures, and its evolution during the time, taking into account the evolution of the Fucino Lake water levels, technological issues, and finally offering its visual reconstruction. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Geophysics and Remote Sensing in Archaeology and Monumental Heritage)
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Open AccessArticle
New Data on the Messapian Necropolis of Monte D’Elia in Alezio (Apulia, Italy) from Topographical and Geophysical Surveys
Sensors 2019, 19(16), 3494; https://doi.org/10.3390/s19163494 - 09 Aug 2019
Cited by 3
Abstract
The Messapian necropolis of Monte D’Elia is related to one of the most important ancient settlements in the Salento Peninsula (in south Italy). In order to understand the extension and layout of this necropolis in the various periods of its use, a ground-penetrating [...] Read more.
The Messapian necropolis of Monte D’Elia is related to one of the most important ancient settlements in the Salento Peninsula (in south Italy). In order to understand the extension and layout of this necropolis in the various periods of its use, a ground-penetrating radar (GPR) prospection was undertaken in some important sample areas by a team of the Institute for Archaeological and Monumental Heritage of the National Research Council of Italy. The analysis of the GPR measurements revealed many anomalies that could be ascribed to archaeological structures (tombs), as well as other anomalies of presumable natural origin or referable to modern features. The data collected were georeferenced in the digital archaeological map of the site and integrated with a virtual reconstruction of the surveyed area. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Geophysics and Remote Sensing in Archaeology and Monumental Heritage)
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Open AccessArticle
Integrating Remote Sensing and Geophysics for Exploring Early Nomadic Funerary Architecture in the “Siberian Valley of the Kings”
Sensors 2019, 19(14), 3074; https://doi.org/10.3390/s19143074 - 11 Jul 2019
Cited by 12
Abstract
This article analyses the architecture of the Early Iron Age royal burial mound Tunnug 1 in the “Siberian Valley of the Kings” in Tuva Republic, Russia. This large monument is paramount for the archaeological exploration of the early Scythian period in the Eurasian [...] Read more.
This article analyses the architecture of the Early Iron Age royal burial mound Tunnug 1 in the “Siberian Valley of the Kings” in Tuva Republic, Russia. This large monument is paramount for the archaeological exploration of the early Scythian period in the Eurasian steppes, but environmental parameters make research on site difficult and require the application of a diversity of methods. We thus integrate WorldView-2 and ALOS-2 remote sensing data, geoelectric resistivity and geomagnetic survey results, photogrammetry-based DEMs, and ortho-photographs, as well as excavation in order to explore different aspects of the funerary architecture of this early nomadic monument. We find that the large royal tomb comprises of a complex internal structure of radial features and chambers, and a rich periphery of funerary and ritual structures. Geomagnetometry proved to be the most effective approach for a detailed evaluation of the funerary architecture in our case. The parallel application of several surveying methods is advisable since dataset comparison is indispensable for providing context. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Geophysics and Remote Sensing in Archaeology and Monumental Heritage)
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Open AccessArticle
Dissecting and Interpreting a Three-Dimensional Ground-Penetrating Radar Dataset: An Example from Northern Australia
Sensors 2019, 19(5), 1239; https://doi.org/10.3390/s19051239 - 12 Mar 2019
Cited by 5
Abstract
A robust 3-D GPR dataset provides interpreters with a variety of methods for extracting important information at buried archaeological sites. An iterative approach that uses reflection profile analysis, amplitude slice-mapping, and often both in conjunction is often necessary as neither method by itself [...] Read more.
A robust 3-D GPR dataset provides interpreters with a variety of methods for extracting important information at buried archaeological sites. An iterative approach that uses reflection profile analysis, amplitude slice-mapping, and often both in conjunction is often necessary as neither method by itself is sufficient. In northern Australia, two constructed mounds contain a number of cultural and geological horizons and features, which can be imaged with GPR. The reflection profiles display the modified ground surface prior to mound construction and some initial construction layers. On the pre-mound surface, amplitude maps of reflective layers that were built-up on the ground surface indicate that they were constructed in an intentional manner. Those surfaces were later covered by sand to produce mounds used for human burial. Human internments in the mound can only be seen in reflection profiles, but once discovered, the profiles can be re-sliced to produce high definition amplitude images of these remains. No one method of analysis can provide an overall interpretation of these complex internal mound features. When the methods are varied, depending on the results of one method, a detailed and varied analysis of certain aspects of the mounds’ internal features are visible, leading to the generation of a number of hypotheses about how this area of northern Australia was used in the past. The 3-D data from GPR shows that this area was an important location on the landscape in the past, and was modified by the construction of a monumental mound, which was then used for human burials, and more recently, the construction of what was likely a ritual enclosure. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Geophysics and Remote Sensing in Archaeology and Monumental Heritage)
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Open AccessArticle
Accuracy Evaluation of Videogrammetry Using A Low-Cost Spherical Camera for Narrow Architectural Heritage: An Observational Study with Variable Baselines and Blur Filters
Sensors 2019, 19(3), 496; https://doi.org/10.3390/s19030496 - 25 Jan 2019
Cited by 5
Abstract
Three-dimensional (3D) reconstruction using video frames extracted from spherical cameras introduces an innovative measurement method in narrow scenes of architectural heritage, but the accuracy of 3D models and their correlations with frame extraction ratios and blur filters are yet to be evaluated. This [...] Read more.
Three-dimensional (3D) reconstruction using video frames extracted from spherical cameras introduces an innovative measurement method in narrow scenes of architectural heritage, but the accuracy of 3D models and their correlations with frame extraction ratios and blur filters are yet to be evaluated. This article addresses these issues for two narrow scenes of architectural heritage that are distinctive in layout, surface material, and lighting conditions. The videos captured with a hand-held spherical camera (30 frames per second) are extracted to frames with various ratios starting from 10 and increasing every 10 frames (10, 20, …, n). Two different blur assessment methods are employed for comparative analyses. Ground truth models obtained from terrestrial laser scanning and photogrammetry are employed for assessing the accuracy of 3D models from different groups. The results show that the relative accuracy (median absolute errors/object dimensions) of spherical-camera videogrammetry range from 1/500 to 1/2000, catering to the surveying and mapping of architectural heritage with medium accuracy and resolution. Sparser baselines (the length between neighboring image pairs) do not necessarily generate higher accuracy than those from denser baselines, and an optimal frame network should consider the essential completeness of complex components and potential degeneracy cases. Substituting blur frames with adjacent sharp frames could reduce global errors by 5–15%. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Geophysics and Remote Sensing in Archaeology and Monumental Heritage)
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