Practicum: Drone Archaeology

Integrating aerial remote sensing in Mediterranean landscape archaeology

Date: 13 May – 2 June 2019

Deadline for applications: 31 March 2019

New remote sensing techniques are profoundly changing the study of archaeological remains in the modern landscape. The resources needed for traditional airborne reconnaissance limited its implementation in archaeological and heritage projects, but innovative, more accessible technology has now tipped the balance. Especially drone-based remote sensing can produce extraordinary results at relatively low cost, and has great potential for reconnaissance, monitoring and documentation purposes. Also for the 3D modeling of archaeological landscapes and standing remains, drones have proved to be of great aid. The integration of this information within satellite, other airborne sensors such as LiDAR, and geophysics is key for landscape archaeological research.
Acquiring practical skills in this field is valuable for archaeological and heritage work all over the globe. Moreover, this expertise has many applications in other fields, and beyond academia, too.
In this KNIR Practicum, you will explore the potential of aerial archaeology and related remote sensing techniques in theory ánd in the field. It equips you with practical skills, from analyzing historical photographs, satellite and LiDAR data, to flying drones in the field collecting new aerial images. In the lab, you learn to process datasets through various software packages (e.g. Agisoft, LAStools, QGIS, other 3D modeling programs). You will work on case-studies in south Italy. Topics range from the mapping of inaccessible swathes of mountainous landscapes, to the documentation of specific archaeological sites – both those hidden underground and those freshly excavated with standing remains. Guided by experts, you will learn how to read and interpret the collected images and datasets, and how to present them in reports and publications.
For the first, theoretical part you will stay in the Royal Netherlands Institute in Rome (KNIR), and for the second, field work part you will stay at the study center in Jelsi (CeDISA), Molise.

Dr. Tesse Stek (KNIR)

Participating guest lecturers:
Intensive theory course at KNIR, May 15-19:
– prof. S. Campana (University of Siena, DSSBC), Aerial Archaeology and drones.
– dr. G. Verhoeven (LBI for Archaeological Prospection & Virtual Archaeology, Wien, Austria), Aerial remote sensing techniques and 3D Modeling

Field work component at CeDISA Jelsi, Molise, May 19 – June 2:
– Dr. J.García-Sánchez (Leiden University): Integrating survey and LiDAR data
– Giacomo Fontana MA (Leiden University): LiDAR rendering techniques
– Dr. J. Waagen (Amsterdam University): photogrammetry and landscape modeling
– Rogier Kalkers MA (Leiden University): Tappino Area Archaeology Project, survey methods, data management

6 ECTS, assigned upon completion of the final assignment

Assessment & Grading
Students will be assessed on the basis of participation and a final assignment, which is a case study for which the student has gathered and analyzed existing and new data during the course.

Course language


Target group and admission
The practicum is open to a maximum of 8 selected students at BA, MA or PhD level from all relevant disciplines, with an interest to develop skills in aerial archaeology and other remote sensing techniques, digital archaeology (GIS, image based modeling), field survey & landscape archaeology, and connected fields.

Fees and Bursaries
The selected participants from KNIR partner universities (UL, UvA, VU, UU RUN, RUG) will receive full KNIR fellowships. They will receive free accommodation in Italy (both in Rome and in Molise), as well as local travel costs to and within the research area in Molise. After successful completion of the final project, international travel costs to and from Rome will be reimbursed up to €100,-. Meals are not included, a kitchen is available at the accommodations. Participants sleep in shared rooms; bring a sleeping bag and warm clothes to the (somewhat spartan) base camp in Molise. Selected participants from other institutions need to cover their own expenses, but will be housed at the KNIR and CeDISA at a reduced rate for the duration of the practicum.

Applications and deadline
Applications are welcome until 1 April 2019. Notice on acceptance will follow before 15 April 2019. Candidates can apply by filling out the application form via the link below, submitting a motivation letter, a recent CV and an updated overview of study results.

Facilities in Rome and Molise
The selected participants will be housed at the Royal Netherlands Institute (KNIR) in Rome’s Villa Borghese Park. From there, it is only a short walk to the historical centre of Rome. The KNIR accommodation offers shared bedrooms and bathrooms, includes a living and dining space, a kitchen, washing machine and wireless internet. All residents have 24/7 access to the library and gardens of the Royal Netherlands Institute. In Molise, the participants will be housed at the training and research facility of the Centro Didattico Internazionale di Studi Archeologici at Jelsi (CeDISA). CeDISA offers spartan shared bedrooms, bathrooms and a dining hall, a kitchen, washing machine as well as laboratory and lecture spaces.

More info
Phone: (+39)063269621