Landscapes of the Dead: Mapping, Survey, and Site Monitoring at Fifa, Jordan

Author(s): Austin Hill; Morag Kersel

Year: 2015


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 looting at the Early Bronze Age site of Fifa in Jordan. Drones, both fixed and rotary wing, are being deployed as part of a 5-year study of the scale and pace of looting at the site. By constructing high-resolution digital elevation models (DEMs) across multiple years, we are able to both map the site and identify new looting events from year to year. This change-over-time data, in conjunction with pedestrian surveys and ethnographic interviews, is particularly valuable for identifying looting events in an already heavily disturbed site. Unfortunately findings from the first two years of the project document significant, on-going damage. These early outcomes are currently being used to develop site protection strategies and local community outreach programs to protect the cultural heritage of this landscape.

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Cite this Record

Landscapes of the Dead: Mapping, Survey, and Site Monitoring at Fifa, Jordan. Morag Kersel, Austin Hill. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 395035)


drones Looting Survey

Geographic Keywords
West Asia

Spatial Coverage

min long: 25.225; min lat: 15.115 ; max long: 66.709; max lat: 45.583 ;