William S. Hanson & Ioana A. Oltean (eds.), Archaeology from Historical Aerial and Satellite Archives. Springer 2013. ISBN: 978-1-4614-4505-0 - available from Springer, New York here
Major international historical archives of declassified military reconnaissance photographs and satellite images, combined with a range of national collections of vertical photographs, offer considerable potential for archaeological and historical landscape research. They provide a unique insight into the character of the landscape as it was over half a century or more ago, before the destructive impact of intensive land use and development. Millions of such images are held in archives around the world, yet their research potential goes largely untapped.
Archaeology from Historical Aerial and Satellite Archives draws attention to the existence and scope of these historical photographs to encourage their use in archaeological and landscape research. Not only do they provide a high-quality photographic record of the pre-modern landscape, but they also offer the prospect of the better survival of archaeological remains surviving as earthworks or cropmarks. These sources of imagery also provide an opportunity to examine areas of Europe and beyond whose skies are still not open to archaeological aerial reconnaissance.
1. A Spy in the Sky: The Potential of Historical Aerial and Satellite Photography for Archaeological Research (William S. Hanson and Ioana A. Oltean)
Aerial photography has facilitated recognition of the density, diversity and complexity of human settlement activity across the fertile lowlands of Europe over millennia, but application of the standard technique of observer-directed archaeological aerial reconnaissance is not universal for a variety of reasons. This introductory chapter highlights the considerable and largely untapped potential of historical aerial and satellite photography for archaeological area survey and landscape analysis, contextualising the examples contained in the volume, which range widely both geographically and chronologically. It draws attention to the range of archival sources available and to the additional benefits of using them, including visualisation of the landscape as it was half a century or more ago before the destructive impact of late twentieth-century development; time-change analysis of the condition of known archaeological monuments; and the discovery of archaeological sites now destroyed.
2. The Aerial Reconnaissance Archives: A Global Aerial Photographic Collection (David C. Cowley, Lesley M. Ferguson, and Allan Williams)
Recognition of the importance of historic aerial photographs for the Â¬primary discovery and recording of previously unrecognised archaeological sites, for the documentation of already known sites and for the characterisation of the wider cultural landscape continues to grow. This chapter describes one of the world's largest collections of historical aerial photographs, The Aerial Reconnaissance Archives (TARA), outlining its contents and potential for archaeologists. Issues of accessibility to TARA and the importance of "best practice' in the use of historic aerial photographs are discussed.
An extract from a vertical frame taken on 21 June 1945 of the prehistoric village, field boundaries and trackways at Masseria Cascavilla, San Giovanni Rotondo in Apulia, southern Italy, recorded as vegetation marks by chance on a reconnaissance photograph (TARA_SJ_682_L21_3678. Licensor NCAP/aerial.rcahms.gov.uk).
3. Blitzing the Bunkers: Finding Aids – Past, Present and Future (Peter McKeague and Rebecca H. Jones)
Aerial photographic collections developed from the need for military intelligence, for cartographic mapping, for commercial gain or for specific targeted research. Over time, the value of historical aerial photography has been appreciated far beyond its original purpose, as it provides an irreplaceable record of the ever-changing landscapes and townscapes that surround us. Key to the reuse of these resources is access to the finding aids that index the individual photographs. It is argued that the potential of the information on traditional ledgers and sortie traces can be, and should be, unlocked through digitisation, to provide spatial indexes that may be accessed through remote Geographic Information Systems as part of integrated information resources delivered through spatial data infrastructures. The role of new and disruptive technologies is also considered to demonstrate the potential for accessing historical mosaicked imagery in browsers such as Google Earth.
Screenshot showing the integration of oblique aerial photographic imagery and mapping information of the archaeological landscape at Inveresk, Musselburgh, provided as a Web Map Service, within the RCAHMS Canmore portal.
4. Declassified Intelligence Satellite Photographs (Martin J. F. Fowler)
The declassification at the end of the last century of over 900,000 photographs acquired by the CORONA, ARGON, LANYARD, GAMBIT and HEXAGON US photo reconnaissance satellite programmes between 1960 and 1980 has resulted in an archive of declassified intelligence satellite photographs (DISP) that is both global in scale and easily accessible. As a source of low-cost, relatively high-resolution satellite imagery, the DISP archive is being used extensively by archaeologists to investigate landscapes in the arid regions of Asia Minor and the Middle East, as well as in more temperate regions. In this chapter, the nature and archaeological uses of the various DISP products are described, and representative examples are provided in order to permit the reader to appreciate their archaeological potential.
Comparison of DISP products. A. Outline plan of the ancient city of Nineveh; B. KH-9 HEXAGON mapping camera photograph from Mission 1208-5; C. KH-4B CORONA photograph from Mission 1110-2; D. KH-7 GAMBIT photograph from Mission 4031. Insert enlargements cover the approximate location of Sennacherib's Southwest palace on Tell Kuyunjik. Data available from the US Geological Survey, EROS Data Center, Sioux Falls, SD, USA.
5. First World War Aerial Photography and Medieval Landscapes: Moated Sites in Flanders (Birger Stichelbaut, Wim De Clercq, Davy Herremans and Jean Bourgeois)
During the First World War, millions of aerial photographs were taken by all fighting countries. Aerial photographs were taken extensively across the different theatres of war documenting a conflict landscape from which the relicts often remain visible as scars on the landscape. The aerial photographs which were taken during the conflict also provide an unparalleled record of the landscape at the beginning of the previous century. This chapter explores the potential of these historical aerial photographs to reveal previously unknown archaeological sites, highlighting some of the interpretational issues involved. A case study focuses on the landscapes and moated sites of the medieval period in Flanders (Belgium).
Examples of sites which were detected only on the First World War aerial photographs (source: Belgian Royal Army Museum).
6. The Use of First World War Aerial Photographs by Archaeologists: A Case Study from Fromelles, Northern France (Tony Pollard and Peter Barton)
This chapter considers the use of aerial reconnaissance photographs taken on the Western Front during the First World War as a source of information for archaeological investigations on sites of conflict from this period. Hundreds of thousands of aerial photographs were taken by both sides, a process which in itself provided the engine for the development of aerial warfare because of the need to provide protection for military reconnaissance. One of the largest collections of Allied photographs resides in the Imperial War Museum in London which provided the examples used in this study, which relate to the suspected burial of Australian and British soldiers behind German lines following the Battle of Fromelles, in northern France, in July 1916. They show a series of pits adjacent to Pheasant Wood to the north of the village of Fromelles and provided vital evidence in the search for the graves in 2007 and 2008.The chapter provides an introductory overview of the development of wartime aerial photography and considers the role of aerial photographs in a programme of archaeological works which succeeded in the location and evaluation of mass grave pits which had lain unmarked since 1916. The result of this work was the recovery of 250 sets of human remains which have since been buried individually in a specially created Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemetery close to the original site.
Aerial photographs showing grave pits (courtesy of the Imperial War Museum).
7. Historic Vertical Photography and Cornwall's National Mapping Programme (Andrew Young)
Between 1994 and 2006, a comprehensive programme of mapping and recording archaeological sites from aerial photographs in Cornwall was carried out as part of the National Mapping Programme, a project initiated and funded by English Heritage. Among the wide range of photographs consulted during the project, the most important were RAF verticals dating from the mid-twentieth century. These photographs cover the entire county, they were taken at propitious times of year and in favourable conditions both for cropmark and earthwork features, and they predate the widespread breaking-in of moorland in the later twentieth century, the post-war expansion of towns and the late twentieth-century move towards deep ploughing. For these reasons, the photographs were an indispensable source, and almost 12,000 sites, ranging from prehistoric settlements to post-medieval industrial remains, were transcribed from them.
A cropmark round at Tregear, Ladock. This enclosure is bounded by a bank and outer ditch. A secondary enclosure bounded by a single ditch is appended to the southern side. Photo 3G/TUD/UK 222/5169 (11th July 1946). Â© Cornwall County Council 2009.
8. The Use of Historical Aerial Photographs in Italy: Some Case Studies (Patrizia Tartara)
Aerial photography should be considered one of the essential instruments for the analysis and the reconstruction of human activity in the landscape. Because it was acquired before the onset of mechanised farming, intensive industrial activity and major urban development, historical aerial photography reveals a landscape that is both closer to that of antiquity and more legible in detail. This chapter outlines the main sources of archival imagery available for Italy, summarises the photogrammetric methodology applied and illustrates the approach with a series of illustrated site and area case studies.
Rocavecchia (Lecce): a detail from an AM 1968 aerial photograph shows the area of the inhabited Messapic centre defined by the line of a double ditch outside the wall circuit (photo in Aereofototeca Nazionale, ICCD-Roma).
9. A Lost Archaeological Landscape on the Lower Danube Roman Limes: The Contribution of Second World War Aerial Photographs (Ioana A. Oltean)
Extensive landscape developments in the Lower Danube region over the second half of the twentieth century have resulted in the loss of numerous archaeological features before appropriate rescue and recording work could be performed. The discovery of a number of historical aerial photographs in one of the uncatalogued sections of The Aerial Reconnaissance Archive has enabled the recovery of a range of landscape features of various dates in the GalaÅ£i area on the Lower Danube even after their destruction, including unparalleled elements of the Roman frontier defences. This chapter considers the way in which the historical context of acquisition of these photographs impacts on their quality and quantity and how such contextual information can be used to help identify imagery in sections of the TARA archive which presently lack finding aids.
1944 aerial photograph of the military airfield at Galati indicating the presence of archaeological features lost under post-war development (MAPRW sortie 60PR460 frame 3051. Licensor NCAP/aerial.rcahms.gov.uk) as transcribed (lower). The fortlet at Galati-Dunarea is clearly visible between a bend in the river Siret and the southern end of lake Catusa.
10. The Value and Significance of Historical Air Photographs for Archaeological Research: Some Examples from Central and Eastern Europe (Zsolt Visy)
Because many countries of Eastern Europe were forced to join the communist totalitarianism of the Soviet Empire, when aerial reconnaissance was relegated to the category of military secrets, they were unable to follow the developments in archaeological aerial reconnaissance experienced in Western Europe in the period after the Second World War. This chapter outlines some of the difficulties archaeologists experienced in acquiring aerial photographs in Eastern Europe, traces the development of aerial archaeology there and provides examples of the value of historical imagery taken for purposes other than archaeology which could be accessed. Examples from Hungary, mainly from the Roman period, serve as a particular case study.
The extant platform of the Roman auxiliary fort of Azaum, now destroyed, clearly visible in the centre of a vertical aerial photograph taken in 1940 (Hungarian Institute for Military History 69397).
11. Archaeology from Aerial Archives in Spain and Portugal: Two Examples from the Atlantic Seaboard (Iván Fumadó Ortega and José Carlos Sánchez-Pardo)
This chapter seeks to illustrate the largely underestimated potential for the use of available historical aerial photographs in archaeological research projects conducted in the Iberian Peninsula. The richest Spanish and Portuguese aerial photographic archives are described, before presenting two different examples of their use from the Atlantic seaboard. While the first case study takes a wide perspective on a Galician landscape, the second is a more local analysis from the Sado Estuary. Though both are preliminary assessments, they are intended to encourage the directors of research projects in the Iberian Peninsula to take an interest in these useful aerial photographic archives, even though they were compiled without any archaeological purpose in mind.
Probable tumulus adjacent to a hilltop settlement south of Ribeira de SÃ£o Martinho (Sado Estuary) on a vertical photograph taken by the ForÃ§a AÃ©rea Portuguesa.
12. Soviet Period Air Photography and Archaeology of the Bronze Age in the Southern Urals of Russia (Natal'ya S. Batanina and Bryan K. Hanks)
This chapter examines the use of air photography during the Soviet Period and the utilisation of this imagery for archaeological research. A detailed case study is provided on the Southern Ural Mountains region of Russia where archaeologists focusing on the Middle to Late Bronze Age (2100 –1500 BC) have utilised black-and-white air photography to identify numerous archaeological sites ranging from the Bronze Age to the medieval period. In recent years, the integration of air photography, geophysical prospection and stratigraphic excavation has produced important insights into the spatial characteristics and diachronic phasing of prehistoric settlement and cemetery patterning. These successful research programmes provide a valuable model for similar field programmes being conducted throughout the territories of the Russian Federation and other regions of the world.
Portion of a July 2nd 1956 Soviet Period aerial photograph of a Kurgan "s usami' (scale 1:25,000).
13. Historical Aerial Imagery in Jordan and the Wider Middle East (Robert Bewley and David Kennedy)
Hundreds of thousands of aerial photographs of Middle Eastern countries have been taken since the beginning of the First World War. The majority has been destroyed, but tens of thousands survive in archives in several countries. Identification of and research on these collections has grown rapidly in recent years. Although the potential value of these "historical' photographs has long been known, the rapid and dramatic development in Middle Eastern countries, affecting archaeological sites and landscapes, has accelerated the need for such records. This chapter surveys the present state of our knowledge of historical archive aerial photography, illustrates its use through specific examples and sets out a programme for increasing access to the "archive' and opening it up to researchers through a web-based collection.
Unayza on 9 April 1918 in a German aerial view showing Turkish defensive trenches around the railway station and water supply, with the Haj fort in the background. The arrow annotated by the Germans points to nearby Turkish trenches and artillery emplacements (Bayerisches Kriegsarchiv 1234_1).
14. “Down Under in the Marshes”: Investigating Settlement Patterns of the Early Formative Mound-Building Cultures of South-Eastern Uruguay Through Historic Aerial Photography (José Iriarte)
This chapter presents a review of the use of aerial photography for Â¬reconnaissance and archaeological survey in the investigation of the Early Formative cultures of south-eastern Uruguay. Historic aerial photographs have been crucial for both locating and obtaining a complete inventory of mound sites associated with these archaeological cultures, known as the "Constructores de Cerritos', since the landscape of south-eastern Uruguay has been dramatically transformed by the drainage of wetlands for rice cultivation in the last decades. This chapter describes the distinctive features on the aerial photographs that archaeologists have used to identify mound sites, including their dimensions, shape, distinct vegetation cover, surrounding circular borrow pits, associated cattle trails and shadow cast. It shows how this information has allowed archaeologists to investigate settlement patterns in the wetlands of India Muerta and briefly discusses the implications for the rise of Early Formative societies in south-eastern South America.
Aerial photograph of Estancia Mal Abrigo mound complexes, small mound groups and isolated mounds along the stream. Composite of 1:20.000 stereoscopic pairs (Aerial photos 1:20,000, No. 183-203 and 19-131).
15. The Archaeological Exploitation of Declassified Satellite Photography in Semi-arid Environments (Anthony R. Beck and Graham Philip)
Declassified satellite photographs are becoming an increasingly important archaeological tool. Not only are they useful for residue prospection and, when in stereo pairs, digital elevation model (DEM) generation, they can also provide large-scale temporal snapshots that provide essential information on landscape change. Importantly, in some instances, declassified photographs may be the only available record of archaeological residues that have subsequently been eradicated.This chapter outlines a generic approach to accessing, digitising and processing declassified satellite photographs and utilising them in conjunction with modern fine-resolution satellite images. The methodological issues of acquisition and preprocessing are addressed. A number of potential archaeological applications are described and illustrated with examples from the Settlement and Landscape Development in the Homs Region, Syria (SHR) project. These examples demonstrate that there is no single approach to processing and image selection. Rather, processing is dependent upon the nature of the archaeological residues and their surrounding matrix, the type of analysis one wants to undertake and the range of ancillary datasets which can be used to "add value' to the source data.
Prospection evidence in the basalt zone. A and B show the same area from 1969 and 2002 respectively, indicating the impact of bulldozing on the cairns and field systems. C and D show the same area with overlays of walls and cairns respectively.
16. Uses of Declassified CORONA Photographs for Archaeological Survey in Armenia (Rog Palmer)
Photographs taken of Armenia on 20 September 1971 during CORONA KH-4B mission 1115 provided a "first look' at the landscape of a small research area. The fortress of Amberd provided keys through which to guide on-screen interpretation of the CORONA photographs, and this led to the identification of more than 200 "sites' in a 400 km2 area. Selected sites were examined on the ground, and the area was further recorded on oblique aerial photographs taken at low altitude from a paramotor.
CORONA extract of Ushi. The dark feature is the known stone-walled Bronze Age-Iron Age hill top settlement with medieval features on its south side. Around these are former fields defined by walls and terraces. (Photo: USGS, DS115-2154DF093, 20 September 1971).
17. Pixels, Ponds and People: Mapping Archaeological Landscapes in Cambodia Using Historical Aerial and Satellite Imagery (Damian Evans and Elizabeth Moylan)
Over the last 20 years, two particular factors have contributed to a renewed focus on archived images of Cambodia and an increasing recognition of their importance. On the one hand, it has become clear that the great urban complexes of the Angkor era have left subtle traces of their existence everywhere on the surface of the landscape, and that remote sensing affords us the opportunity to uncover, map and analyse the various elements of medieval urban form. On the other hand, since the cessation of three decades of civil conflict, rapid urbanisation in Cambodia and the expansion of modern cities into rural areas have endangered and in some cases obliterated many of those remnant archaeological features. In addition to Second World War-era aerial photo archives and modest collections produced by the colonial authorities, the Second Indochina War has left behind a particularly rich legacy of now-declassified spy satellite imagery from the 1960s and early 1970s. These images, in particular those from the KH-4 CORONA missions, provide extremely valuable coverage of an almost pristine archaeological landscape immediately prior to the radical restructuring of agricultural systems during the Khmer Rouge period. In this chapter, we describe how various collections of archived imagery have been used not only to reconstruct the medieval landscapes of the Khmer Empire but also as a tool for evaluating the complex relationships between contemporary populations at Angkor and the archaeological landscape they have inhabited for generations.
Top left: The central enclosure and causeway of Veal Banteay, as tentatively identified in 2010; top right: visible traces of those features in the Williams-Hunt imagery from 1945; bottom right: IGN imagery from 1954 showing the military encampment built in the late 1940s or early 1950s; bottom left: FINNMAP imagery from 1992 with traces of Veal Banteay erased from the landscape.
18. Integrating Aerial and Satellite Imagery: Discovering Roman Imperial Landscapes in Southern Dobrogea (Romania) (Ioana A. Oltean and William S. Hanson)
This chapter demonstrates the value of analysing a range of remotely sensed imagery in order to study the development of the historic landscape in southern Dobrogea (Romania). The methodology involves integrating within a GIS environment low-altitude oblique aerial photographs, obtained through traditional observer-directed archaeological aerial reconnaissance; medium-altitude historical vertical photographs produced by German, British and American military reconnaissance during the Second World War; and high-altitude declassified US military satellite imagery (CORONA) from the 1960s. The value of this approach lies not just in that it enables extensive detailed mapping of large archaeological landscapes in Romania for the first time, but also that it allows the recording of previously unrecognised archaeological features now permanently destroyed by modern urban expansion or by industrial and infrastructural development. Various results are presented and illustrated, and some of the problems raised by each method of data acquisition are addressed.
The ancient linear fortifications across Dobrogea on World War Two photograph at Medgidia (Luftwaffe GX aerial photo-mosaic SO 40 228, April 1940 (Licensor NCAP/aerial.rcahms.gov.uk).