Monday, 28 October 2013

Seminar series, lecture 4: Breaking new ground from the air: Some recent technologies for the benefit of aerial archaeologies

We were joined tonight by Dr Verhoven from the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Archaeological Prospection and Virtual Archaeology in Vienna. The institute was established to develop new methods for non invasive Prospection in the study of landscape archaeology. Tonight's talk was a well presented lecture on the recent work he had under taken in the developments of aerial surveying using 3 different types of techniques. These techniques involved using Digital Still Cameras (DSC), Airborne Imaging Spectroscopy (AIS) and Airbone Laser Scanning (ALS). Simply put, it involved mounting cameras and scanning equipment to remote operated unmanned aerial systems (UAS) such as multicopters and "flying wings" to recorded ground level and sub surface archaeological features.

The information that is recorded is then fed in to a computerised system that converts the data in to a 3D textured model. Techniques used are Structure From Motion (SFM) and Dense Multi View Stereo (MVS) which apply georeferencing to detect local features which match with pre taken photo sets. Other techniques use full wave length ALS to apply more detail in the bounce back i.e removing trees or false shadows which tend to dominate in Lidar imaging. Near Ultra Violet (NUV) and Near Infrared (NIR) imaging is used to pull out the 'Spectral Signature' of sub surface features. These techniques and an understanding of vegetation growth and depth patterns allow for the interpretation of the collected data.

As it stands, the technology is the future of archaeological studies but it far from cost effective. It is the long term goal of Dr Verhoven and his colleagues to make the technology more affordable and to open up the Meta Data to a wider research network.

Dr Verhoven's lecture on his research showed the advanced technological innovations being made at the Institute. He was able to convey the complexities of his work in an easy to understand and informative presentation. We look forward to see what comes next. 

By Cian Corrigan

Our next seminar will be Thursday, November 7th, and will be given by Prof. Colin Richards on the topic of the late Neolithic of Orkney. More information here. 

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