Archaeology from the Sky

Archaeology from the sky

Date: 12 May – 6 June 2014

Deadline for applications: 1 April 2014

in collaboration with Leiden University

Gianluca Cantoro (UL), Jeremia Pelgrom (KNIR) and Tesse Stek (UL).

Target group
MA and PhD students with a clear interest in Aerial Archaeology or connected topics; qualified BA students may be allowed on the basis of experience and motivation.

Course content
During this course, you will together with a small group explore the potential of Aerial Archaeology for your research interests. We will work on different kind of aerial photographs and satellite imagery, learn how to read and interpret these images and extract archaeological information for large (and sometimes inaccessible) pieces of landscape with their cultural stratifications as well as specific sites. The course offers a hands-on experience on almost all aspects of the discipline of Aerial Archaeology or Aerial Remote Sensing (ARS), from analyzing historical photographs to different methods of remote sensing, and the elaboration of the data with software packages. From the beginning of the workshop on, we will work on practical case-studies in Central-Southern Italy. Actual flights with a Cessna and/or drones are planned as well during our stay at our new (!) study centre in Jelsi, Molise.
Topics to be covered during the course include:
Historic imagery
Afforestation, urbanization and intensive land use, amongst others, have destroyed or covered historic landscapes and ancient monuments. Historic aerial imagery is a privileged source for documenting and understanding these lost landscapes since it provides information that cannot be found anywhere else.
Traditional aerial photography
From airborne platforms such as airplanes and UAV’s (drones).
New developments in remote sensing methods and photogrammetric reconstruction
New above-ground remotely-sensed data sources and technologies capable of providing valuable information (high resolution cameras or the application of photogrammetric reconstructions’ suites).

The classes will be organized in 3 different locations (Leiden, NL; Rome, IT; Jelsi, IT), and cover different topics –also with the support of dedicated high profile lectures (see below)– ranging from the understanding of the reasons for the formation of readable (or indirectly understandable) traces of human activities, arriving to the final product of the discipline.
Invited lecturers are chosen between the most experienced and innovative in approach of the Italian panorama. The participants will work with practical hands-on activities and will each individually be assigned a specific task to be accomplished towards the end of the event.
Various aspects of the discipline will be covered also with direct practice with experts in different fields, such as experience with the photographic archive of WWII images, thanks to the collaboration with the Italian ICCD-Aerofototeca (Central Institute for Catalogue and Documentation – Department of Aerial Photo archive); pro and contra of remotely controlled devices will be discussed in a dedicated fieldwork with experts (and drones); digital reconstruction of (historical and modern) landscapes with the use of LiDAR data and photogrammetric tools.
Practical sessions will include transcription or mapping, using local material and, hopefully, photos from student flights in their real case-study area in Molise, Central Italy.

Time schedule
May 12-16: Leiden
First introduction to the course and to the discipline
Tools for digital aerial archaeology
Distribution of training material in preparation to the activities in Rome
May 26-29: Rome
First-hand experience in a photo-archive
Specialized high-profile lectures
Work on real research-project material
June 30- 6: Jelsi
Complete data processing and integration
On-site acquisition of new images with different techniques/devices
Towards the preparation of the final essay


Participating students will receive free accommodation in Italy. After successful completion of the final paper, travel costs will be reimbursed up to €100,-