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A Hot New Technology: Advancing Methodologies for Archaeological Aerial Thermography

Author(s): Jesse Casana

Year: 2017

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Summary

Since the 1970s, archaeologists have known that a wide range of features, including subsurface architecture, pits and ditches, pathways, and surface artifacts should theoretically be visible in an aerial thermal image, but technological hurdles largely prevented thermography from being deployed in most field settings. Recent research has begun to take advantage of new lightweight, uncooled thermal cameras, increasingly reliable drones, and photogrammetric image processing software, revolutionizing archaeologists’ ability to collect and mosaic thermal imagery. Utilizing data from archaeological sites in North America and the Middle East, this paper presents new methods for acquisition and processing of aerial thermal imagery using a camera system that collects raw thermal imagery at very high spectral resolution. These data offer many possibilities for quantitative, raster-based methods to filter out noise, improve feature recognition, and perform archaeological feature discrimination. Results reveal a great deal regarding the varied archaeological sites investigated by this project, in many cases rivaling results of more conventional archaeo-geophysical data, and thereby offering researchers a powerful new method to explore the archaeological record in a way that is rapid, inexpensive, and non-destructive.


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A Hot New Technology: Advancing Methodologies for Archaeological Aerial Thermography. Jesse Casana. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 431201)


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Abstract Id(s): 15816

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America