Quantifying the effects of erosion on archaeological sites with low-altitude aerial photography, structure from motion, and GIS: A case study from southern Jordan

Publication date: February 2018Source:Journal of Archaeological Science, Volume 90
Author(s): Matthew D. Howland, Ian W.N. Jones, Mohammad Najjar, Thomas E. Levy
Cutting-edge photogrammetric techniques combined with traditional methods are a boon for archaeologists interested in performing spatial analyses. Low-altitude aerial photography (LAAP) combined with photogrammetric Image Based Modeling (IBM) comprise a workflow that allows for precise and accurate recording of both photographic and elevation data of archaeological sites with a great deal of speed and efficiency. Through these techniques, the researcher can create spatially-referenced orthophotos and digital elevation models (DEMs), which can serve as the basis for investigations into site formation processes. Due to the rapidity of the creation of these datasets, analysis of site formation processes can be completed over the course of hours or days. The results of such site formation studies can inform and guide further archaeological investigations of sites. This paper presents the application of a combined LAAP-IBM method to acquire GIS data, which serves as the basis for a case study of a new model of the effects of erosion on archaeological sites – a key factor in understanding site formation processes. These methods are applied to Khirbat Nuqayb al-Asaymir, a Middle Islamic site in southern Jordan, as a case study.