Drones for research: DePaul University archaeologist to explain UAV use at Fifa

The usage of unmanned aerial cars — drones — to document and monitor a ravaged landscape around the Dead Sea Plain in Jordan for the previous 3 years reveals that looting continues in the web site, even though at a measurably lowered pace, based on a DePaul University archaeologist.

“Drones are proving to be powerful new tools to archaeologists for documenting excavation, mapping landscapes and identifying buried functions. In addition they may be applied to monitor web site destruction and looting within the present,” mentioned Morag M. Kersel, an assistant professor of anthropology at DePaul.

Kersel, whose study focus is on trade and antiquities, will discuss how drones are an emerging tool for archeology in the course of a presentation Feb. 14, 2016 in the annual meeting in the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Kersel’s presentation, “UAVs for Website Documentation and Monitoring,” is element of a session that examines the protection of cultural heritage websites and artifacts.

“Three seasons of monitoring at Fifa have demonstrated that UAVs can offer quantifiable evidence for the rate of ongoing web-site harm, even in contexts exactly where other remote sensing systems would give insufficient information,” stated Kersel.

“Between 2013-14, we had 34 new looting episodes — holes — clearly people have been nonetheless looting. In the subsequent year, there’s incredibly little or no proof of looting. Why?” Kersel mentioned. “Is it simply because there is absolutely no demand Early Bronze Age ceramics?

“An element on the ongoing investigation is the examination of why looting has abated? Are there no more graves to loot? Have looters found a lot more profitable economic sources? Are the Department of Antiquities and NGO initiatives operating?” she asked.

Combining clues from the air and around the ground

Kersel is co-director of the Galilee Prehistory Project and also the Comply with the Pots Project, tracing the movement of Early Bronze Age pots in the Dead Sea Plain in Jordan.

“Part of what we do will be the drone flyovers. But one more aspect of this project is ethnographies with individuals on the ground. We treat all stakeholders using a vested interest inside the site using the same intellectual curiosity, which suggests we interact with and learn from neighborhood populations, dealers, collectors, looters, government staff, archaeologists, museum specialists, tourists, and customs agents.

“Ours is a holistic approach for the landscape, which combines archaeology, ethnography and also the drones,” Kersel stated.

Archaeologists for many years have already been using satellite pictures to quantify the number of looted graves. “Comparing satellite pictures together with the lunar-like landscape of Fifa led us to the revolutionary thought of applying drones to gather information with higher resolution from places of our personal deciding on,” Kersel explained.

These days, she and colleague Austin Hill in the University of Connecticut use a compact fixed wing plane equipped using a Canon camera inside the belly as well as a GoPro mounted on the front, as well as a DJI rotary wing hexacopter or quadcopter, which supply the platforms for steady, low elevation aerial photography, creating it doable to both document looting and destruction at Fifa together with generate spatial data for digital mapping.

Global science engagement could be the theme for this year’s annual meeting with the American Association for the Advancement of Science. It focuses on how the scientific enterprise can meet international challenges in need to have of innovation and international collaboration.

“Our extensive approach towards the landscape, which contains groundtruthing, ethnographic interviews, cooperative efforts using the Jordanian Division of Antiquities, and drones are crucial to safeguarding and recording what remains of this Early Bronze Age mortuary web page,” said Kersel. “This analysis reinforces the power of drones in web page monitoring and documentation as portion of future protection approaches.”