Illegal archaeological excavations, generally denoted as looting, is one of the most important damage factors to cultural heritage, as it upsets the human occupation stratigraphy of sites of archaeological interest. Looting identification and monitoring are not an easy task. A consolidated instrument used for the detection of archaeological features in general, and more specifically for the study of looting is remote sensing. Nevertheless, passive optical remote sensing is quite ineffective in dense vegetated areas. For these type of areas, in recent decades, LiDAR data and its derivatives have become an essential tool as they provide fundamental information that can be critical not only for the identification of unknown archaeological remains, but also for monitoring issues. Actually, LiDAR can suitably reveal grave robber devastation, even if, surprisingly, up today LiDAR has been generally unused for the identification of looting phenomenon. Consequently, this paper deals with an approach devised ad hoc for LiDAR data to detect looting. With this aim, some spatial visualization techniques and the geomorphon automatic landform extraction were exploited to enhance and extract features linked to the grave robber devastation. For this paper, the Etruscan site of San Giovenale (Northern Lazio, Italy) was selected as a test area as it is densely vegetated and was deeply plundered throughout the 20th century. Exploiting the LiDAR penetration capability, the prediction ability of the devised approach is highly satisfactory with a high rate of success, varying from 85-95%.

Pattern Recognition Approach and LiDAR for the Analysis and Mapping of Archaeological Looting: Application to an Etruscan Site

Maria Danese;Valentino Vitale;Nicodemo Abate;Antonio Minervino Amodio;Rosa Lasaponara;Nicola Masini
2022

Abstract

Illegal archaeological excavations, generally denoted as looting, is one of the most important damage factors to cultural heritage, as it upsets the human occupation stratigraphy of sites of archaeological interest. Looting identification and monitoring are not an easy task. A consolidated instrument used for the detection of archaeological features in general, and more specifically for the study of looting is remote sensing. Nevertheless, passive optical remote sensing is quite ineffective in dense vegetated areas. For these type of areas, in recent decades, LiDAR data and its derivatives have become an essential tool as they provide fundamental information that can be critical not only for the identification of unknown archaeological remains, but also for monitoring issues. Actually, LiDAR can suitably reveal grave robber devastation, even if, surprisingly, up today LiDAR has been generally unused for the identification of looting phenomenon. Consequently, this paper deals with an approach devised ad hoc for LiDAR data to detect looting. With this aim, some spatial visualization techniques and the geomorphon automatic landform extraction were exploited to enhance and extract features linked to the grave robber devastation. For this paper, the Etruscan site of San Giovenale (Northern Lazio, Italy) was selected as a test area as it is densely vegetated and was deeply plundered throughout the 20th century. Exploiting the LiDAR penetration capability, the prediction ability of the devised approach is highly satisfactory with a high rate of success, varying from 85-95%.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11563/156787
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