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High resolution space and ground-based remote sensing and implications for landscape archaeology: the case from Portus, Italy

Keay, Simon J., Parcak, Sarah H., Strutt, Kristian D.
Journal of archaeological science 2014 v.52 pp. 277-292
aerial photography, archaeology, geophysics, hinterland, landscapes, nondestructive methods, remote sensing, satellites, spatial data, surveys, Italy
Ground-based archaeological survey methods, together with aerial photography and satellite remote sensing data, provide archaeologists with techniques for analysing archaeological sites and landscapes. These techniques allow different properties to be detected dependent on the nature of archaeological deposits, although clear restrictions exist, either with their physical limitations, or in the extent and nuances of their application. With recent developments in landscape archaeology technologies, it is increasingly necessary to adopt an integrated strategy of prospection, incorporating both ground-based non-destructive methods and remotely sensed data, to understand fully the character and development of archaeological landscapes. This paper outlines the results of a pilot project to test this approach on the archaeological landscape of Portus, the port of Imperial Rome. Its results confirm the potential that exists in enhancing the mapping of this major port complex and its hinterland by means of an integration of satellite remote-sensing data, geophysical survey and aerial photography. They have made it possible for new questions to be raised about Portus and its environs and, by implication, suggest that integrated fieldwork strategies of this kind have much more to tell us about major Classical sites and other large and complex sites across the globe than by addressing them by means of single methods alone.