Latest developments in remote sensing of Roman urban and rural sites in Austria


The combination of aerial archaeology, geophysical prospection and geomatics permits the efficient detection, investigation and documentation of archaeological sites above and below the ground. Aerial archaeological imagery – both vertical and oblique aerial photos - provides an important foundation for landscape archaeology through the efficient detection and identification of archaeological structures and features. The archaeological site of ancient Carnuntum and its Hinterland in Austria are well suited for the utilization of aerial photography to detect and document both urban and rural Roman sites. Aerial photography is a very cost-effective method for site discovery with the potential to provide detailed maps of archaeological structures. For the time being, more than 7 800 features have been mapped, covering an area of 11 km² throughout the archaeological landscape of Carnuntum. The Hinterland was investigated during various research projects focussing on the interpretation of archaeological and palaeo-environmental features derived from airborne remote sensing. It has been demonstrated that aerial photography followed by systematic analysis and GIS-based interpretation of the images harbours a great potential for the generation of large-scale overviews and detailed survey of the archaeological structures hidden in the subsurface. GIS-based mapping can be undertaken at different levels (i.e. at scales, ranges of precision, depiction of interpreted detail) as are appropriate for the study of various problems. Additionally, modern archaeological remote sensing techniques, such as airborne imaging spectroscopy and airborne laser scanning, open promising new perspectives for the extraction of information on buried archaeological remains and the generation of highly detailed digital terrain models. In the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Archaeological Prospection & Virtual Archaeology (LBI ArchPro) hyperspectral aerial research and the evaluation of full-waveform airborne laser scanning using Riegl instrumentation ( are considered to be cornerstones in the aerial survey of an archaeological landscape. Aside from the development of new techniques for the analysis and visualisation of the huge 3D data volumes, the LBI ArchPro also aims at determining those spectral regions that are most prone to archaeologically induced crop and soil discolorations. Therefore, field spectroscopic measurements are taken across archaeological areas and compared with zones believed to be undisturbed. Repeated measurements on a weekly timescale ensure that the entire cycle of crop growing and soil treatment is covered, a process which should indicate the moments that are most favourable for the capture of airborne data for the investigation of urban and rural Roman sites.

The Roman Archaeology Conference 22. Frankfurt am Main, Germany, 29.03 - 01.04.2012. Abstracts