Archaeological Applications of Unmanned Aerial Systems (Drones)

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UAVPhotogrammetrydronesdroneMappingMayaRemote SensingSurveyLootingFAA

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  • Documents (15)

  • Archaeological Aerial Thermography in Theory and Practice (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Jesse Casana. Adam Wiewel. Autumn Cool.

    Archaeologists have recognized since the 1970s that thermal images captured at an optimal time in the diurnal cycle have the potential to reveal surface artifacts, subtle topography, and even subsurface architectural remains. However, it is only with the recent development of reliable and stable unmanned aerial vehicles, small, uncooled, high-resolution thermal cameras, and powerful photogrammetric image processing software that archaeological aerial thermography has become practical. This...

  • Archaeological Topography: Comparing Digital Photogrammetry Taken with Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) versus Standard Surveys with Total Stations (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Grace Erny. Gerardo Gutierrez. Alyssa Friedman. Melanie Godsey. Machal Gradoz.

    This paper addresses how Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) are used as a platform to produce accurate topographic maps with a considerable reduction in time and costs associated with fieldwork when compared with a total station. For this study, data was collected in the controlled environment of a mapping course to compare the procedures and time required to train archaeology students in the operation of a total station versus the operation of a small UAV equipped with digital cameras. An...

  • Groundtruthing from the Air: Reconstructing Tribal Agricultural and Landscape Systems in the Lower Chama Valley, New Mexico Using Low Elevation UAV Technology. (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only B. Sunday Eiselt. J. Andrew Darling. Samuel Duwe. Chet Walker. Mark Willis.

    Uninhabited Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) are changing the way that archaeologists conduct fieldwork with Native American Tribes. We present an application of UAV mapping and visualization technology in a combined boots-on-the-ground and satellite reconnaissance of Classic period (A.D. 1350-1600) ancestral Pueblo sites and agricultural systems. This approach reduced field time and enhanced efficiency in the identification and recordation of regionally extensive prehistoric features at a level of...

  • Landscapes of the Dead: Mapping, Survey, and Site Monitoring at Fifa, Jordan (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Morag Kersel. Austin Hill.

    Birds’ eye views of archaeological sites and landscapes provide excellent vantage points for our understanding of the past. Images from archives, balloons, drones, kites, poles, and satellites are changing the ways in which we carry out archaeological investigations. In cooperation with the Jordanian Department of Antiquities under the umbrella project of Follow the Pots, the Landscapes of the Dead Research Project is using Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs, ‘drones’) to monitor archaeological site...

  • Los mapas arqueológicos de Cuicuilco y El Salto: Fotogrametría aérea con drones para el registro y preservación del patrimonio arqueológico. (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Marco Pacheco Gonzalez. Gerardo Gutierrez. Felipe Ramirez-Sánchez.

    El desarrollo de nuevas tecnologías (UAVs) han permitido explorar, generar y diversificar nuevos puntos de vista aéreos de sitios arqueológicos y como resultado generar una conciencia social hacia la conservación, investigación y preservación del patrimonio cultural de México. En esta ponencia se presentarán los casos de Cuicuilco y El Salto, México, como ejemplos de modelación fotogramétrica de sitios arqueológicos y monumentos coloniales con UAVs. SAA 2015 abstracts made available in tDAR...

  • Low Altitude Unmanned Aerial Photography To Assist in Rock Art Studies (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Robert Mark. Evelyn Billo.

    A radio-controlled DJI Phantom quadcopter with GoPro or built-in camera can help document archaeological features best seen from the air, such as geoglyphs, rock alignments, and some rock art panels. The camera can be set for interval photography, or monitored and triggered in real-time. The fisheye image distortion can be reasonably corrected with software such as Photoshop or DxO. This portable and relatively inexpensive method of flying a pattern and hovering directly above a site (now...

  • Modeling Space at Tell Timai: Composite imaging at Greco-Roman Thmuis, Egypt (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Jay Silverstein. Ishiba Ranoli Oñasojle. Sarah Chapman. Robert Littman.

    Ancient Thmuis represents one of the best preserved examples of a Greco-Romano-Egyptian metropolis in the Nile Delta. However, preservation of the tell is variable, with sections on the periphery having been stripped by systematic looting of mud and red brick to buildings while in the center of the tell walls three stories tall and well-defined streets are common. Archaeological work and subsequent preservation have depended on a variety of imaging methods to reconstruct segments of the city. ...

  • Navigating the FAA’s Turbulent Airspace in the United States regarding UAVs (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Michael Searcy.

    There has been a significant increase in the use of UAVs throughout the world to aid in archaeological investigations. Unfortunately the current U.S. Federal Aviation Administration has enforced strict policies that prohibit most institutions and private firms to use these aerial vehicles. As a result archaeologists in the United States are falling behind in implementing an important tool in archaeological reconnaissance. This paper outlines the progress made thus far by the FAA to reform these...

  • Preserving Archaeology with Drones in Peru (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Luis Castillo Butters.

    In an effort to protect our Cultural Patrimony UAVs or Drones are increasingly use to map and 3D Model archaeological sites. In Peru, the Ministerio de Cultura is leading efforts to systematically record sites using drones, produce ortophotography from the photos, and produce 3D models of the sites. Archaeologists and geographers hired by the MC are using more than 20 drones to cover the territory and register as many site as possible. Ortophotos are use for registration and surveying, 3D...

  • Rapid Survey, Salvage, and Mapping Using Drones in an Ancient Maya Landscape: New Settlement Revealed at the Crossroads of Saturday Creek, Belize (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Mark Willis. Eleanor Harrison-Buck. Chester Walker.

    Saturday Creek is a sizeable Maya site center with an elite residence, three large pyramids, and two ballcourts. While much of the site core is in bush, most of the surrounding area has been cleared for agriculture. While the clearing makes for good visibility, the hinterland settlement has been subject to extensive bulldozing, repeated plowing, and removal of stone over the years, obscuring the smaller mounds and making it difficult to discern them on the ground. In less than two days, we flew...

  • Small commercial aerial platforms for the generation of systematic, high-resolution, multi-spectral imagery and photogrammetry: Trimble UX5 and X100 (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Christopher Lee. Carl Lipo. Suzanne Wechsler.

    In the last 5 years, the commercial availability of embedded computer systems and low-cost hardware has led to an explosion of lightweight aerial platforms for photography. Offering multispectral imaging with outstanding spatial resolutions, these platforms offer researchers an inexpensive means of systematically documenting the archaeological record on the scale of landscapes. Through our exploration of hobby-class vehicles and the Trimble X100 and UX5 aerial platforms, we learned that the...

  • A UAV-based approach for a cost-efficient documentation of agrarian structures in the arid Atacama area (N. Chile) (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only César Parcero-Oubiña. Patricia Mañana-Borrazás. Alejandro Güimil-Fariña. Mariela Pino. César Borie.

    The paper summarizes the contribution of UAV to the documentation of a vast group of late Prehispanic agrarian elements (fields, irrigation canals) in the arid Atacama area (northern Chile). Taking advantage of the extraordinary preservation and visibility of fields, canals and other constructions, the general mapping of the area was based on a combination of visual interpretation of high resolution satellite images (GeoEye 1) and fieldwork. However, despite their high resolution, satellite...

  • UAVs at Ruwayda, Qatar: photogrammetry and thermal imaging for feature detection and site recording (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Austin Hill. Andrew Petersen.

    As part of the "Visualizing Qatars Past" project, drones are being used at the Islamic Period site of Ruwayda, on the north coast of Qatar, to document extant structures and investigate buried features. A Microdrone equipped with visible light, near infrared, and thermal sensors was used to document the fort and surrounding areas. By combining thermal imaging of the site with photogrammetric mapping, it was possible to identify architecture in and around the site that is difficult or impossible...

  • Unearthing a town from the sky: Kom Wasit, the bird’s eye archaeological point of view. (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Israel Hinojosa-Balino. Henrik Brahe.

    In this presentation we will show the way we used an Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) to reproduce an accurate map of Kom Wasit, an archaeological site of the Nile Delta located in the province of Beheira. An orthophoto was generated using photogrammetry and GIS, which combined layers of information such as the magnetometry results and the topography survey. It was therefore possible to recreate what can be dug in the future and to understand the settlement pattern of this Late Dynastic town. SAA...

  • Utility of low-cost drones to generate 3D models of archaeological sites from multisensory data (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Dominique Meyer. Eric Lo. Aliya Hoff. Mike Hess. Falko Kuester.

    With the emergence of low-cost multicopters on the market, archaeologists have rapidly integrated aerial imaging and photogrammetry with more traditional methods of site documentation. UAVs serve as simple yet transformative tools that can rapidly map archaeological sites with increased efficiency and higher resolution than manual measurements while contextualizing the site within the landscape at costs significantly cheaper than plane-based aerial LIDAR systems. Though structure from motion...