[Paper] Emerging Applications of LiDAR / Airborne Laser Scanning in the Management of World Heritage Sites

Featuring recent work in Cambodia

Remotely sensed data and imagery have revolutionized the way we understand archaeological sites and landscapes. LiDAR / airborne laser scanning (ALS) has been used to capture the often subtle topographic remnants of previously undiscovered sites even in intensely studied landscapes, and is rapidly becoming a key technology in survey projects with large extents and/or difficult terrain. This paper examines the practical application of this technology to archaeological heritage management, with special attention given to how ALS can support the World Heritage List nomination process and management of WHS archaeological sites and landscapes. It presents a number of examples from published ALS studies alongside case studies from projects undertaken by the authors at Cultural Site Research and Management and the Cultural Site Research and Management Foundation, Baltimore, Maryland, USA. The paper opens with a review of how ALS has been used at established World Heritage Sites, focusing on the Archaeological Ensemble of the Bend in the Boyne, Ireland, and the Angkor Archaeological Site in Cambodia. ALS applications for site prospection and demarcation, and viewshed analysis is explored in this section. Following this, we explore how ALS has been used to support two recent applications: the successfully nominated Monumental Earthworks at Poverty Point, USA and the recently nominated Orheiul Vechi Archaeological Landscape in Moldova. We propose that the detail offered by ALS data greatly strengthens nomination dossiers by emphasizing the outstanding universal value of sites, highlighting significant features and providing greater context to wider landscapes, and is particularly efficacious in delineating site boundaries for legal protection and long-term management. Finally, we conclude with a look at some of the practical considerations involved in the use of ALS, including access and training.

Source: Emerging Applications of LiDAR / Airborne Laser Scanning in the Management of World Heritage Sites: Conservation and Management of Archaeological Sites: Vol 18, No 4

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Author: Noel Tan

Dr Noel Hidalgo Tan is the Senior Specialist in Archaeology at SEAMEO-SPAFA, the Southeast Asian Regional Centre for Archaelogy and Fine Arts.

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