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Contrast archaeological site detection and the non visual component of the electromagnetic spectrum l.jpg

Contrast, archaeological site detection and the non-visual component of the electromagnetic spectrum

Creator:Dr. Anthony Beck (School of Computing, Leeds University)

Author(s): Dr. Anthony Beck (School of Computing, Leeds University)

Stakeholders: N/A


Contrast archaeological site detection and the non visual component of the electromagnetic spectrum2 l.jpg

Contrast, archaeological site detection and the non-visual component of the electromagnetic spectrum

Resource Reference:AARG_THEORY_CONTRAST_01_01.PPT

Resource Section:THEORY

Suggested Prerequisites:None

Suggested Level:Secondary, Tertiary, CPD

Keywords:contrast, archaeology, remote sensing, aerial photography, satellite imagery, spectrum, formation, proxy, detection


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Contrast, archaeological site detection and the non-visual component of the electromagnetic spectrum

In recent decades advances in sensor technology have led to a range of ground, airborne and spaceborne imaging instruments that can be applied to archaeological and heritage management problems. However, the development of the archaeological detection techniques associated with these technologies have evolved independently with variable understanding of the physical, chemical, biological and environmental processes that determine whether archaeological residue contrasts will be identified in one or any sensor. This presentation will explore some theoretical issues surrounding archaeological contrast identification.


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(Re-)use statement

  • Insert here (Lyn: please advise)

  • The slides do not have to be used in this order.

  • Where there is not enough descriptive information in the slide itself further details can be found in the notes section.


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Slide courtesy of Stefano Campana


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EM spectrum and Aerial Photography (Log scale)


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Aerial Photography and archaeology

  • Most successful archaeological detection technique

  • Reliant on specific seasonal and environmental conditions

    • Increasingly extreme conditions are required for the detection of ‘new’ sites

  • Low understanding of the physical processes at play outside the visual wavelengths

  • Significant bias in its application

    • in the environmental areas where it is productive (for example clay environments tend not to be responsive)

    • Surveys don’t tend to be systematic

    • Interpretation tends to be more art than science


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Remote sensing and archaeology

  • New and different sensors/technologies can address some of these deficiencies

    • Multi/hyperspectral sensors (including thermal)

    • LiDAR (ALS) - High resolution topographic recording

    • Ground geophysics (magnetometry, resistivity)

    • GIS/IP software – improved processing (getting the best out of what we have)

  • Will require going back to first principles to model how archaeological anomalies occur in each domain

    • Starting from AP assumptions unlikely to be helpful


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Why Non-Visual Remote Sensing?

  • Many archaeological contrasts are easier to identify in non-visual wavelengths:

    • Crop stress and vigour

    • Soil mineralogy

    • Moisture

    • Temperature

  • Use of non-visual wavelengths has a number of benefits:

    • Can extend the window of opportunity for archaeological identification

    • May not require extreme environmental conditions

    • May be applicable in ‘non-responsive environments’


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First Principals - Archaeological Site Detection

  • Discovery requires the detection of one or more site constituents which are sufficient to suggest that a site might be present.

  • The important points for archaeological site detection are that:

    • Archaeological sites are physical and chemical phenomena.

    • There are different kinds of site constituents.

    • The abundance and spatial distribution of different constituents vary both between sites and within individual sites.

    • These attributes may be masked or accentuated by a variety of other phenomena.

  • Importantly from a remote sensing perspective archaeological site do not exhibit consistent spectral signatures


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First Principals – Archaeological Sites

  • Archaeological sites show up as:

    • Structures

    • Shadow marks

    • Soil marks

    • Crop marks

    • Thermal anomalies

  • Influenced by effects of:

    • Weather

    • Season

    • Soil type and soil moisture

    • Crop type


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Now you see me

Now you dont

First Principals – Archaeological Site Examples

Micro-Topographic variations

Soil Marks

variation in mineralogy

and moisture properties

Differential Crop Marks

constraint on root depth

and moisture availability

changing crop stress/vigour

Proxy Thaw Marks

Exploitation of different

thermal capacities of objects

expressed in the visual

component as thaw marks


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First Principals 3 - Contrast Types

  • Direct -where a measurement, which exhibits a detectable contrast with its surroundings, is taken directly from an archaeological residue.

    • In most scenarios direct contrast measurements are preferable as these measurements will have less attenuation.

  • Proxy - where a measurement, which exhibits a detectable contrast with its surroundings, is taken indirectly from an archaeological residue (for example from a crop mark).

    • Proxy contrast measurements are extremely useful when the residue under study does not produce a directly discernable contrast or it exists in a regime where direct observation is impossible.


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Contrast and Archaeological Detection

  • The nature of archaeological residues and their relationship with the immediate matrix determines how easily residues can be detected.

  • Detection requires the following:

    • A physical, chemical or biological contrast between an archaeological residue at its immediate matrix

    • A sensor that can ‘detect’ this contrast

    • Sensor utilised during favourable conditions

      • i.e. you’re unlikely to detect thaw marks in summer using photography!

        • Although you could detect the underlying thermal anomalies using a different sensor at this time.

      • Here the underlying process remains the same (a thermal variation) and the detecting sensor is in part determined by the environmental conditions.

  • It is this contrast between an archaeological feature and its matrix that one is wanting to observe.


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Detection and (De-)Formation Processes

  • Unfortunately archaeological sites do not produce distinct Spectral Signatures

    • Rather: produce localised disruptions to a matrix

  • The nature of these disruptions vary and include:

    • Changes to the soil structure

    • Changes to moisture retention capacity

    • Changes in geochemistry

    • Changes in magnetic or acoustic properties

    • Changes to topography

  • At least one of these disruptions will produce a contrast which is detectable


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Environmental and ambient conditions

  • Local conditions structure how any contrast difference is exhibited:

    • Soil type

    • Crop type

    • Moisture type

    • Diurnal temperature variations

  • Expressed contrast differences change over time

    • Seasonal variations impact on the above (crop, moisture, temperature in particular)

    • Diurnal variations: sun angle (topographic features), temperature variations

  • Exacerbated by anthropogenic actions

    • Cropping

    • Irrigation

    • Harrowing


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Example: Multi/Hyper-spectral remote sensing

Dimension and number of recordable wavelengths.

There is NO archaeological spectral signature.

Allows one to select the portion of the spectrum where there is the most contrast. Hence, an improvement in archaeological detection.

Poorly understood outside the visual


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Example: Multi/Hyper-spectral remote sensing

Dimension and number of recordable wavelengths.

There is NO archaeological spectral signature.

Allows one to select the portion of the spectrum where there is the most contrast. Hence, an improvement in archaeological detection.

Poorly understood outside the visual


Example multi hyper spectral remote sensing19 l.jpg

Example: Multi/Hyper-spectral remote sensing

Dimension and number of recordable wavelengths.

There is NO archaeological spectral signature.

Allows one to select the portion of the spectrum where there is the most contrast. Hence, an improvement in archaeological detection.

Poorly understood outside the visual


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Summary

  • Non-visual remote sensing has huge potential for the detection of archaeological features

    • However, aerial photographic techniques are not a good starting point

  • Requires a thorough understanding of how archaeological contrast is produced so that the correct sensor can be applied at the correct time:

    • (De) Formation processes

    • Local (contrasting) matrix

    • Ambient conditions

    • Sensor characteristics


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