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Special Issue "Remote Sensing for Archaeology and Cultural Landscapes"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Geography and Sustainability".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 June 2021).

Special Issue Editors

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Remote sensing is emerging as a key tool for both archaeology and the development and management of cultural heritage. For countries with fledgling site and monument records, it provides the only cost-effective means for locating and defining archaeological sites and landscapes. Remote sensing, particularly its usefulness in providing regular and repeated imagery of less-accessible areas, is also of unparalleled importance for monitoring the effects of climate change, urban and rural development, looting, and conflict. Furthermore, the produced data provide an exciting opportunity to examine past human–environment dynamics. We invite you to submit articles on topics including, but not limited to:

  • cultural and practical interconnections between environment, culture, territory, and climate change;
  • from aerial photos to declassified satellite images: the study of landscape over time using historical data sources;
  • Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) for palaeoenvironmental applications, site detection, and risk monitoring;
  • from visual data interpretation to semiautomatic and automatic procedures from an archaeological perspective;
  • Remote Sensing, Geographical Information System (GIS), and Geospatial analysis for risk monitoring and the management of cultural resources;
  • the integration of space/air borne and ground remote sensing in archaeogeophysics;
  • the “LiDAR revolution” for site discovery and the reconstruction of historical landscapes;
  • remote sensing methods for studying past human–environment interactions; and
  • tools and ideas for creating a platform to share knowledge and data.

Dr. Rosa Lasaponara
Dr. Nicola Masini
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1900 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • LiDAR
  • SAR
  • Satellite
  • Earth observation
  • Big data
  • Data processing
  • Data integration
  • In situ analysis
  • Uav
  • Risk monitoring and CH preservation
  • best practices for CH preservation
  • sustainability
  • tourism
  • climate change

Published Papers (10 papers)

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Research

Article
A WebGIS for Visualizing Historical Activities Based on Photos: The Project of Yunnan–Vietnam Railway Web Map
Sustainability 2021, 13(1), 419; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/su13010419 - 05 Jan 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 906
Abstract
Historical photos have significance for historical and social studies. Especially, the introduction of Geographic Information System (GIS) and digitalized historical photos have brought more opportunities and possibilities for interdisciplinary studies and the convenience for normal citizens to participate in the landscape observation. To [...] Read more.
Historical photos have significance for historical and social studies. Especially, the introduction of Geographic Information System (GIS) and digitalized historical photos have brought more opportunities and possibilities for interdisciplinary studies and the convenience for normal citizens to participate in the landscape observation. To this aim, this paper first reviews the research related to historical photos and Open GIS, and points out the meaning of historical photos for the Yunnan–Vietnam Railway (YVR). Based on the collected data of original historical photos from archives and the fieldwork data that recorded the landscape along the railway from 2018 to 2019, a WebGIS of Yunnan–Vietnam Railway is designed and implemented with open GIS tools. All the data are processed in the QGIS as vector and raster layers and loaded in PostgreSQL as relational tables. Then, heatmaps are created indicating the density of historical activities of the railway company, the other historical photographers, and current touristic activities. Connected with the PostgreSQL database, the data are uploaded to GeoServer for more GIS functionalities. Finally, the whole system lives in a webpage, implemented in HTML and JavaScript with Leaflet, and the improved functionalities of the Yunnan–Vietnam Railway WebGIS include distance measuring, search engine, and historical information browsing. In the future, further research can be done focusing on the landscape changes along the railway and public participation during the landscape observation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Remote Sensing for Archaeology and Cultural Landscapes)
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Article
Modeling Land Suitability for Rice Crop Using Remote Sensing and Soil Quality Indicators: The Case Study of the Nile Delta
Sustainability 2020, 12(22), 9653; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/su12229653 - 19 Nov 2020
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 1072
Abstract
Today, the global food security is one of the most pressing issues for humanity, and, according to Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the increasing demand for food is likely to grow by 70% until 2050. In this current condition and future scenario, the [...] Read more.
Today, the global food security is one of the most pressing issues for humanity, and, according to Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the increasing demand for food is likely to grow by 70% until 2050. In this current condition and future scenario, the agricultural production is a critical factor for global food security and for facing the food security challenge, with specific reference to many African countries, where a large quantities of rice are imported from other continents. According to FAO, to face the Africa’s inability to reach self-sufficiency in rice, it is urgent “to redress to stem the trend of over-reliance on imports and to satisfy the increasing demand for rice in areas where the potential of local production resources is exploited at very low levels” The present study was undertaken to design a new method for land evaluation based on soil quality indicators and remote sensing data, to assess and map soil suitability for rice crop. Results from the investigations, performed in some areas in the northern part of the Nile Delta, were compared with the most common approaches, two parametric (the square root, Storie methods) and two qualitative (ALES and MicrioLEIS) methods. From the qualitative point of view, the results showed that: (i) all the models provided partly similar outputs related to the soil quality assessments, so that the distinction using the crop productivity played an important role, and (ii) outputs from the soil suitability models were consistent with both the satellite Sentinel-2 Normalize Difference Vegetation Indices (NDVI) during the crop growth and the yield production. From the quantitative point of view, the comparison of the results from the diverse approaches well fit each other, and the model, herein proposed, provided the highest performance. As a whole, a significant increasing in R2 values was provided by the model herein proposed, with R2 equal to 0.92, followed by MicroLES, Storie, ALES and Root as R2 with value equal to 0.87, 0.86, 0.84 and 0.84, respectively, with increasing percentage in R2 equal to 5%, 6% and 8%, respectively. Furthermore, the proposed model illustrated that around (i) 44.44% of the total soils of the study area are highly suitable, (ii) 44% are moderately suitable, and (iii) approximately 11.56% are unsuitable for rice due to their adverse physical and chemical soil properties. The approach herein presented can be promptly re-applied in arid region and the quantitative results obtained can be used by decision makers and regional governments. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Remote Sensing for Archaeology and Cultural Landscapes)
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Article
Harnessing Remote Sensing Derived Sea Level Rise Models to Assess Cultural Heritage Vulnerability: A Case Study from the Northwest Atlantic Ocean
Sustainability 2020, 12(22), 9429; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/su12229429 - 12 Nov 2020
Viewed by 582
Abstract
Climate change threatens cultural heritage across the globe. Of its varied impacts, sea level rise is critically pressing because of the long relationship between humans and the ocean. Numerous cultural heritage sites lie on the world’s fragile coasts. Identifying cultural heritage sites at [...] Read more.
Climate change threatens cultural heritage across the globe. Of its varied impacts, sea level rise is critically pressing because of the long relationship between humans and the ocean. Numerous cultural heritage sites lie on the world’s fragile coasts. Identifying cultural heritage sites at risk is an urgent need, but archaeological research programs do not always have the resources available to conduct large-scale cultural heritage vulnerability assessments. Given sea level rise poses myriad pressing issues, entities around the globe are developing sea level rise models for various management purposes (ecology, hydrology, real estate, etc.). These remote sensing-derived sea level rise models can be harnessed by archaeologists to assess cultural heritage site vulnerability. Here, such an analysis is realized for a northwest Atlantic Ocean coastal area experiencing relative sea level rise and with robust cultural heritage, including economically significant maritime heritage tourism. Combining archaeological and historic geospatial databases with LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging)-derived relative sea level rise models illuminates coastal New Hampshire’s cultural heritage vulnerability. This is informative for risk monitoring, mitigation, and preservation planning, especially for cultural heritage tourism. The analysis also raises the need for discussions around what kind and whose heritage gets priority in planning for future sea level rise impacts. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Remote Sensing for Archaeology and Cultural Landscapes)
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Article
Estimating Flood Characteristics Using Geomorphologic Flood Index with Regards to Rainfall Intensity-Duration-Frequency-Area Curves and CADDIES-2D Model in Three Iranian Basins
Sustainability 2020, 12(18), 7371; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/su12187371 - 08 Sep 2020
Viewed by 892
Abstract
There is not enough data and computational power for conventional flood mapping methods in many parts of the world, thus fast and low-data-demanding methods are very useful in facing the disaster. This paper presents an innovative procedure for estimating flood extent and depth [...] Read more.
There is not enough data and computational power for conventional flood mapping methods in many parts of the world, thus fast and low-data-demanding methods are very useful in facing the disaster. This paper presents an innovative procedure for estimating flood extent and depth using only DEM SRTM 30 m and the Geomorphic Flood Index (GFI). The Geomorphologic Flood Assessment (GFA) tool which is the corresponding application of the GFI in QGIS is implemented to achieved the results in three basins in Iran. Moreover, the novel concept of Intensity-Duration-Frequency-Area (IDFA) curves is introduced to modify the GFI model by imposing a constraint on the maximum hydrologically contributing area of a basin. The GFA model implements the linear binary classification algorithm to classify a watershed into flooded and non-flooded areas using an optimized GFI threshold that minimizes the errors with a standard flood map of a small region in the study area. The standard hydraulic model envisaged for this study is the Cellular Automata Dual-DraInagE Simulation (CADDIES) 2D model which employs simple transition rules and a weight-based system rather than complex shallow water equations allowing fast flood modelling for large-scale problems. The results revealed that the floodplains generated by the GFI has a good agreement with the standard maps, especially in the fluvial rivers. However, the performance of the GFI decreases in the less steep and alluvial rivers. With some overestimation, the GFI model is also able to capture the general trend of water depth variations in comparison with the CADDIES-2D flood depth map. The modifications made in the GFI model, to confine the maximum precipitable area through implementing the IDFAs, improved the classification of flooded area and estimation of water depth in all study areas. Finally, the calibrated GFI thresholds were used to achieve the complete 100-year floodplain maps of the study areas. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Remote Sensing for Archaeology and Cultural Landscapes)
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Article
Mapping the Roman Water Supply System of the Wadi el Melah Valley in Gafsa, Tunisia, Using Remote Sensing
Sustainability 2020, 12(2), 567; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/su12020567 - 11 Jan 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1714
Abstract
In recent years, very high-resolution satellite remote-sensing tools have been progressively used in archaeological prospecting to acquire information and improve documentation. Satellite remote sensing has also benefited from technical improvements, including better spectral and spatial resolution of sensors, which have facilitated the detection [...] Read more.
In recent years, very high-resolution satellite remote-sensing tools have been progressively used in archaeological prospecting to acquire information and improve documentation. Satellite remote sensing has also benefited from technical improvements, including better spectral and spatial resolution of sensors, which have facilitated the detection and discovery of unknown archaeological areas. This paper focuses on investigations conducted using multi-spectral satellite remote-sensing data of the ancient canal systems of the Wadi el Melah Valley (WMV) in southern Tunisia. The area used to be part of a huge military defense system along the desert border. This paper describes the use of GeoEye-1 and Ziyuan-3 satellite remote-sensing data to reveal ancient Roman canals, which were part of an advanced hydraulic system devised to capture runoff water and cope with the lack of water in the area. In general, this research provides new information on some essential sections of the Roman walled defense system Limes (Fossatum) in the southern part of the empire, where we study previously undetected sites. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Remote Sensing for Archaeology and Cultural Landscapes)
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Article
Cultural Heritage Management Using Remote Sensing Data and GIS Techniques around the Archaeological Area of Ancient Jeddah in Jeddah City, Saudi Arabia
Sustainability 2020, 12(1), 240; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/su12010240 - 27 Dec 2019
Cited by 12 | Viewed by 1839
Abstract
Historic Jeddah is located on the eastern shore of the Red Sea. Historic Jeddah was designated as a UNESCO world heritage site in 2014. The new urban development for the city of Jeddah has resulted in different spatial patterns. The southern part of [...] Read more.
Historic Jeddah is located on the eastern shore of the Red Sea. Historic Jeddah was designated as a UNESCO world heritage site in 2014. The new urban development for the city of Jeddah has resulted in different spatial patterns. The southern part of Jeddah city falls within the moderate zone, because this area is well developed in regard to infrastructure with rainstorm and sewage networks. The middle area of the city falls within high vulnerability risk due to its high population, shallow water depth, flat slopes, and various incomplete network services (i.e., leakage from septic tanks and water pipes). The western and northwestern parts of the city are subject to very high pollution risk, due to the highly permeable area with coralline formation, very shallow water depth, and depressions. Unfortunately, historic Jeddah has been affected by the unplanned development and shallow water depth. Most of the construction and decoration of the ancient buildings are suffering from deterioration. The paper aims to detect the environmental changes, assessing the geo-environmental status, and creating some of the innovative solutions while using the integration between remote sensing and GIS techniques. The combination of SRTM, Corona 1966, Spot 1986, Landsat 1987, Orbview 2003, and Sentinel2A 2017 data will help in monitoring the changes around the study area. The Bands combination and the spatial statistical analysis are considered to be the most effective methods in the examination of the new built-up indices. GIS techniques and some models would be suggested as solutions to protect the archaeological area, according to UNESCO recommendations. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Remote Sensing for Archaeology and Cultural Landscapes)
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Article
The Extent of Infrastructure Causing Fragmentation in the Hydrocarbon Basin in the Arid and Semi-Arid Zones of Patagonia (Argentina)
Sustainability 2019, 11(21), 5956; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/su11215956 - 25 Oct 2019
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 710
Abstract
Fragmentation is a disruption in the connectivity of landscapes. The aims of this paper are (i) to quantitatively assess the fragmentation rates in three landscape units located in a hydrocarbon basin, and (ii) to model their behavior between 2001 and 2013 using landscape [...] Read more.
Fragmentation is a disruption in the connectivity of landscapes. The aims of this paper are (i) to quantitatively assess the fragmentation rates in three landscape units located in a hydrocarbon basin, and (ii) to model their behavior between 2001 and 2013 using landscape metrics at different scales of resolution. The following metrics were selected using principal component analysis (PCA): The Clumpiness Index (CLUMPY), patch density (PD), perimeter-area fractal dimension (PAFRAC) and effective mesh size (MESH). Results from our investigations pointed out that hydrocarbon activity increased the fragmentation at the sites. In particular, the CLUMPY index increased in all three landscape units, the average of PD decreased from 60 to 14 patches per 100 hectares, whereas the mean of MESH was quite constant, however, due to oil production, it decreased mainly in the coastal valleys. Finally, the PAFRAC also decreased at sites with oil production, being more evident in the plateau and coastal canyons. As a whole, outputs from our analyses clearly pointed out that the monitoring of landscape fragmentation trends in arid and semi-arid zones can be successfully achieved using metrics derived from satellite spectral information. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Remote Sensing for Archaeology and Cultural Landscapes)
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Article
Low-Cost Archaeological Investigation and Rapid Mapping of Ancient Stone Tidal Weirs in the Penghu Archipelago Using Google Earth
Sustainability 2019, 11(17), 4536; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/su11174536 - 21 Aug 2019
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 997
Abstract
This paper provides a brief history review of the use of ancient weirs in fishing on our planet, as well as a pilot study that involves investigating and mapping the coastal heritage of ancient stone tidal weirs (STWs) in the Penghu Archipelago which [...] Read more.
This paper provides a brief history review of the use of ancient weirs in fishing on our planet, as well as a pilot study that involves investigating and mapping the coastal heritage of ancient stone tidal weirs (STWs) in the Penghu Archipelago which is located in the Taiwan Strait. The spatial distribution and morphological features of STWs across Penghu Archipelago were investigated and analyzed using very high-resolution (VHR) and freely available Google Earth (GE) imagery and geographic information system (GIS) analysis tools. A total of 539 ground-truthed STWs were identified from multiple temporal GE images, and these accounted for over 90% of the localized inventory databases. The proposed GE-based method was found to be more efficient, timely and effective compared to field and airborne surveys. This paper illustrates the utility of GE as a source of freely available VHR remote sensing imagery for archaeological surveys and heritage sustainability in coastal areas. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Remote Sensing for Archaeology and Cultural Landscapes)
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Article
Preventive Archaeology Based on Open Remote Sensing Data and Tools: The Cases of Sant’Arsenio (SA) and Foggia (FG), Italy
Sustainability 2019, 11(15), 4145; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/su11154145 - 01 Aug 2019
Cited by 13 | Viewed by 1381
Abstract
Sentinel-2 data have been used in various fields of human activity. In cultural heritage, their potential is still to be fully explored. This paper aims to illustrate how remote sensing and open source tools are useful for archaeological investigations. The whole issue revolves [...] Read more.
Sentinel-2 data have been used in various fields of human activity. In cultural heritage, their potential is still to be fully explored. This paper aims to illustrate how remote sensing and open source tools are useful for archaeological investigations. The whole issue revolves around the application of satellite (Sentinel-2) and accessory tools for the identification, knowledge and protection of the cultural heritage of two areas of southern Italy: Sant’Arsenio (SA) and Foggia (FG). Both study cases were selected for a specific reason: to demonstrate the usefulness of open data and software for research and preservation of cultural heritage, as in the case of urban sprawl, development of public works (gas- and oil-pipelines, etc.) or intensive use of land for agricultural purposes. The results obtained are relevant for the knowledge improvement and very useful to operate in the field of preventive archaeology, for the evaluation and management of risk, the planning of city-expansion or infrastructures that could damage the buried heritage. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Remote Sensing for Archaeology and Cultural Landscapes)
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Article
Enhancement of Archaeological Proxies at Non-Homogenous Environments in Remotely Sensed Imagery
Sustainability 2019, 11(12), 3339; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/su11123339 - 17 Jun 2019
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1242
Abstract
Optical remote sensing has been widely used for the identification of archaeological proxies. Such proxies, known as crop or soil marks, can be detected in multispectral images due to their spectral signatures and the distinct contrast that they provide in relation to the [...] Read more.
Optical remote sensing has been widely used for the identification of archaeological proxies. Such proxies, known as crop or soil marks, can be detected in multispectral images due to their spectral signatures and the distinct contrast that they provide in relation to the surrounding area. The current availability of high-resolution satellite datasets has enabled researchers to provide new methodologies and algorithms that can further enhance archaeological proxies supporting thus image-interpretation. However, a critical point that remains unsolved is the detection of crop and soil marks in non-homogenous environments. In these areas, interpretation is problematic even after the application of sophisticated image enhancement analysis techniques due to the mixed landscape and spectral confusion produced from the high-resolution datasets. To overcome this problem, we propose an image-based methodology in which the vegetation is suppressed following the “forced invariance” method and then we apply a linear orthogonal transformation to the suppressed spectral bands. The new Red–Green–Blue (RGB) image corresponds to a new three-band spectral space where the three axes are linked with the crop mark, vegetation, and soil components. The study evaluates the proposed approach in the archaeological site of “Nea Paphos” in Cyprus using a WorldView-2 multispectral image aiming to overcome the limitations of the mixed environments. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Remote Sensing for Archaeology and Cultural Landscapes)
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