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Satellite Remote Sensing of Archaeological Vegetation Signatures in Coastal West Africa

Author(s): Sean H. Reid

Year: 2016

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This paper illustrates how images captured by satellite remote sensing technology can be used to detect vegetation that indicates archaeological sites in West Africa. These sites are typically marked by a pattern of vegetation that differs from the surrounding landscape, including concentrations of very large trees with sociocultural and historical significance: cotton (Ceiba pentandra) and baobab (Adansonia digitata). These features are conspicuous elements of the landscape both from the ground and in aerial imagery. These vegetation patterns (vegetation signatures) are detectable in very high-resolution (VHR) multispectral satellite imagery. Two complementary methods of using VHR satellite imagery are discussed in this paper: visual interpretation and semi-automated subpixel classification. These techniques aid ongoing archaeological survey of the Sierra Leone River Estuary including assessing the impact of recently renewed industrial activity.

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Satellite Remote Sensing of Archaeological Vegetation Signatures in Coastal West Africa. Sean H. Reid. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Washington, D.C. 2016 ( tDAR id: 434435)


Spatial Coverage

min long: -129.199; min lat: 24.495 ; max long: -66.973; max lat: 49.359 ;

Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): 374

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