While traditional methods of terrestrial survey involve walking transects and, in vegetated areas, periodic subsurface testing may be conducted, the possibly of discerning the spatial context of surface collection is initially very difficult. The recent availability of remote sensing data, especially high-resolution LiDAR, provides an exceptional tool that can provide insights into the subsurface context of collected surface materials. In some cases, the features disclosed by LiDAR can direct a survey to locations which may warrant much more intensive investigation with test excavations.
The area around Tel Abu Shusha on the western perimeter of the Jezreel Valley (northern Israel/historic Palestine) provides a case study where an intensive pedestrian survey was conducted in 2017. Subsequently, in the 2019 field season, surface reconnaissance was conducted using LiDAR as the principal guide to verifying subsurface features in selected areas. An analysis is presented which compares the two surveys and the types of evidence disclosed in the landscape. The strength of adding LiDAR to the traditional field survey technique is explored, along with recommendations for how best to utilize LiDAR in evaluating historic landscapes.
A surface reconnaissance survey of several archaeological sites in greater Megiddo spanning the late Roman through Ottoman-Mandate periods was undertaken during June and July 2019 using LiDAR imagery with the intent of determining what features displayed by the LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) technology imagery could be verified on the ground. Specifically, the investigation sought to understand how LiDAR imagery could display sub- surface structures and certain surface features in two Palestinian villages previously identified in the vicinity of Tel Megiddo. The results of the field research of these case studies illustrate how the near-surface structures that once supported various buildings can be readily identified through the visualization that LiDAR provides.
Field surveys conducted during the summer of 2019 included Roman sites and Palestinian villages which used LiDAR imagery to corroborate the features observed on the ground. The LiDAR imagery provided insights into features which lay subsurface and could not discerned through surface observation.
The challenge of presenting micro- and macro-scale scale data in landscape archaeology studies is facilitated by a diversity of GIS technologies. Specific to scholarly research is the need to selectively share certain types of data with collaborators and academic researchers while also publishing general information in the public domain. This article presents a general model for scholarly online collaboration and teaching while providing examples of the kinds of landscape archaeology that can be published online. Specifically illustrated is WorldMap, an interactive mapping platform based upon open-source software which uses browsers built to open source standards. The various features of this platform allow tight user viewing control, views with URL referencing, commenting and certification of layers, as well as user annotation. Illustration of WorldMap features and its value for scholarly research and teaching is provided in the context of landscape archaeology studies.
Recommendation: In order to improve the accuracy of interpreting the imagery, a reference catalog of images should be created that contain both on-the-ground photos and aerial images of individual structures. A reference image catalog will allow analysts to accurately identify the various buildings and features of refugee settlements.
The Mediterranean Coast GIS platform combines both WorldMap and the Dataverse Network, thereby allowing scholars of any studies involving the Mediterranean to publish both graphic GIS data and scholarly articles.