I have just returned from the Sensing the Past conference in Frankfurt on remote sensing in archaeology. It was the final conference for the ArchaeoLandscapes Europe project (ArcLand), which has been running for five years under the directorship of Axel Posluschny of the Roman-Germanic Commission. ArcLand’s main aim was to create a European network between users of remote sensing methods in archaeology and to encourage the wider take-up of and training in said methods. As the conference revealed, in this context remote sensing means a mixture of different non-invasive prospection methods, including LiDAR, geophysics, aerial photography, hyper-spectral imaging, and some satellite imaging.
The conference itself was very engaging intellectually. I was particularly taken with two elements: the work of Michael Doneus and his team on the latest prospection methods (particularly hyper-spectral imaging, which has the potential to be the next great breakthrough); and the work of Kevin Barton with community groups in Ireland, where low-cost aerial imaging has the potential to open up community engagement with archaeology in a country where you need a license to undertake almost any other type of archaeological work. Another fun paper was given by Gabor Bertok which included the successful usage of data collected by GPS-enabled combine harvesters for archaeological prospection (which would be of limited applicability for archaeology, but potentially immensely useful for reconstructing past river channels across wide landscapes)!
Amongst the most useful achievements of ArcLand partners has been the creation of two toolboxes for processing LiDAR data: Ralf Hesse’s LiDAR Visualization Toolbox (LiVT) and Žiga Kokalj’s Relief Visualization Toolbox (RVT). By their own description, RVT is the more user-friendly and LiVT the more customizable when undertaking analyses. I shall certainly be experimenting with them more myself.
In any event, overall the conference was very worthwhile and it is to be hoped that the brilliant work of the ArcLand network continues even as the funding comes to an end.
Elmet Archaeology is a social enterprise run by some very lovely and talented individuals who believe that the past, history and archaeology are important to everybody, while Dearne Valley Archaeology Group are a community based archaeology society. They jointly supported DVAD 2014.
The conference was a really interesting and varied mix of speakers and topics, and all presentations were very well received. I was particularly interested in the talks that discussed community archaeology and volunteer based survey and excavation projects, such as Mercian Archaeology’s Sherwood Forest Archaeology Project and David Connolly of British Archaeological Jobs Resource discussing his work with Rampart Scotland. It’s great to see how archaeology and volunteers can come together on some truly exciting projects and the topic fit in very well with Elmet Archaeology’s own social enterprise and archaeological outreach work. I also found David Mennear’s discussion of the positive aspects of starting his osteoarchaeology blog These Bones of Mine and his pointers for people interested in getting blogging really fascinating.
My own talk was an introduction to the English Landscapes and Identities project as a whole and a little bit about my own research findings regarding grey literature so far. Here’s an exciting shot of me in action (trying to figure out how the pointer worked):
The presentation generated a lot of interest and some great discussion. It was a really fun day out (and involved a truly epic feast for lunch!) and all the speakers were both interesting and entertaining.
Thank you once again to Elmet Archaeology and Dearne Valley Archaeology Group, and especially to Lauren McIntyre for putting on such a great conference (and for kindly sharing their photos of the day). If you want to learn more about DVAD 2014 and the many other speakers of the day, check out Elmet Archaeology’s blog about the day.