aerial photography

The many researchers of the GeoSatReSeArch Lab: high tech archaeology!

For the last year (and for the next three weeks), I have been working with a team of archaeologists and scientists from related disciplines at the Laboratory of Geophysical – Satellite Remote Sensing and Archaeo-environment (GeoSatReSeArch Lab), at the Institute for Mediterranean Studies, in Rethymno on Crete. The lab and the IMS are part of the Greek research foundation, FORTH. The IMS is the only FORTH centre which deals with the humanities and social sciences. The other Institutes based at Heraklion, Patras and Ioannina, cover the fields of computer science and the natural and biomedical sciences. The specific purpose of IMS is to support and invigorate research in the field of the human and social sciences, as well as to promote the application of advanced technologies in the field.

In that respect, the Lab conducts its own research,  but also participates in collaborations with the Ephorate (the Greek State Archaeology service), Universities, Foreign Schools and many others. A key aspect of our work is showcasing the potential of high-tech methodologies in archaeology, and we do a lot of teaching and outreach work alongside the frontline scientific research.

After a year working here, I thought it would be interesting to make my ‘Day of Archaeology’ post about the whole lab, not just me, to give you all an idea of the diversity of the work we do and the projects we are involved in.

Conducting Archaeological Geophysics:

Kelsey Lowe- PostDoc Researcher

Kelsey and her data

Kelsey and her data

“While fieldwork generally beckons most of us this time of year, or at least myself, I find that today I am sitting comfortably at my desk processing geophysical data from a Middle Bronze Age site in Cyprus. As part of my current position at IMS, having the chance to work along other Mediterranean experts has provided a very unique experience, especially in regards to archaeological and geophysical interpretation of Bronze Age landscapes. Oh look, what do we have here?!? Architecture! Happy Processing!”

Abir Jrad- PostDoc Researcher

Abir surveying, coring, and processing

Abir surveying, coring, and processing

“Hello, I am Abir, I am not an archaeologist, but a geophysicist who has the pleasure to work with archaeologists  searching for buried archaeological features using geophysical methods. Today I will continue the processing of the data acquired in the last field work on the archaeological site of Kenchreai, in Greece! We combined several geophysical methods to prospect the studied area. As usual the main method was the gradiometry with the Sensys instrument. The gradiometry and also the electromagnetic acquisition show an anomaly with high magnetic gradient intensity and also a high magnetic susceptibility. In the location of this potential archaeological anomaly, we did a hand coring, to collect samples on a vertical profile. The samples collected were analyzed using the Bartington susceptibility meter in the Lab, which allowed us to measure the magnetic susceptibility at different frequencies. The correlation between the field geophysical data and the laboratory analysis will allow me to realize a constraint modelling for the suspected anomaly!

Carmen Cuenca-Garcia – PostDoc Researcher

Figure 1: Carmen and her data!

Figure 1: Carmen and her data!

“Hi there, this is Carmen reporting from her desk on Day A (see photo). Figure 1 above encapsulates today’s work, which is… more reporting. In this case, I am writing up the results of analyses of soil samples collected at several Neolithic tell-sites (or magoulas as they are called here in Greece). Before the soil sampling sampling, we surveyed the magoulas using a range of geophysical techniques during several fieldwork campaigns and got fantastic results. We analysed the soil samples using magnetic susceptibility and phosphate analysis, then we correlated the results with those from the geophysical surveys. This type of integrated analysis is extremely interesting and informative for archaeological prospection but it also involves lots of intense work: dealing with many and diverse types of datasets, stats, cross referencing many graphs, tables… which may be a wee bit tough to deal with when you are in a celebratory mood like today ☺ Such analysis also require lots of collaborative work and I particularly enjoy the enthusiastic chats I have with my colleague Abir Jrad, who is working with me on the correlations. Part A in Figure 1 shows a view of how you would find me if you pop into my office right now and part B is where I would rather like to be… outside, fieldworking and enjoying the anticipation of tasting the delicious and well-deserved Thessalian food after a days work on the top of a magoula!”

Teaching and Training Activities:

Kayt Armstrong (me!) – PostDoc researcher

Interns Valanto and Aggeliki testing their RTK GPS skills on the IMS roof terrace

Interns Valanto and Aggeliki testing their RTK GPS skills on the IMS roof terrace

“My day-to-day job at the lab is as the GIS officer for a project looking at the dynamics of settlement on Crete in the Early Byzantine period (roughly the 4th-9th centuries AD). Part of the goals of that project are to further the use of GIS, aerial prospection and other high-tech methodologies in Greece. As a result, I have two interns working with me at the moment, from the Archaeology programme at the University of Crete. They are making important contributions to the project, and in exchange learning database skills, GIS methods and how to survey using the latest RTK GPS equipment. Today they are testing some user manuals I have made for the team, so that the amazing high tech kit can continue to be used after I have left in August. My job isn’t just to bring in these skills to the project, but to train local archaeologists, students and researchers in them, so that they are taken up more widely in the profession. Pay it forward!”

Developing Prospection Methods and Equipment:

Apostolos Sarris- lab Director, Ian Moffat – Post Doc Researcher and Beatrice Giuzio- engineering student intern

Drift testing the EM kit (on the beach!)

Drift testing the EM kit (on the beach!)

“We  spent the day testing electromagnetic induction (EMI) instruments on the beach near Episkopi on the north coast of Crete.  EMI is a geophysical technique that is frequently used in archaeology to measure the conductivity and magnetic susceptibility of the soil to find archaeological sites and map the geology that contains them.  Despite the usefulness of this method, recent research has shown that EMI instruments are prone to drifting, that is that their data values change during the course of a day even when sitting in the same location.  To determine if this drift exists for the EMI instruments used at IMS we set them up near the beach and collected data continuously in the same location for 7 hours while monitoring changes in temperature.  This experiment showed two clear findings: 1) that the adjacent taverna has excellent seafood dishes, and 2) that the EMI instruments drift in ways that are not correlated to temperature change.  These findings suggest that much more research to understand drift is required, particularly when using EMI to map archaeological sites that are difficult to map with this method, such as those without extensive metal in the subsurface.”

Aerial Prospection and Photogrammetry:

Gianluca Cantoro- PostDoc Researcher

Gianluca processing images from a flight earlier in the day

Gianluca processing images from a flight earlier in the day

“My name is Gianluca and I am an aerial archaeologist and photo-interpreter. My job consists in looking into photographic archives in search for aerial images where archaeological traces can be identified. In combination with historical photographs study, I also undertake aerial survey myself with Remotely Piloted Aerial Systems (RPAS or simply drones) or ultralight high-wing aircraft (usually something like a Cessna 172) over specific areas.

In the photo, I’m just back from one of these archaeological aerial surveys and I am sorting the pictures I took during the flight. You can see a map with notes I had in the plane, my ideal flight path and areas of interests, my pilot-flight kneeboards and my camera.

Once images have been synchronized with the GPS logger (so that each photograph holds the GPS location in the EXIF tags), they are entered in a digital database and then photogrammetrically processed, to obtain orthophotos and 3D models of the photographed areas (or potential “unknown” archaeological sites). A part of my work at the IMS I have developed software to make these tasks easier, which is free to use and downloadable here. ”

Augmented and Virtual Reality for Cultural Heritage:

Lemonia Argyriou- software engineer

Testing the Augmented Reality application

Testing the Augmented Reality application

“Working in Rethymno, Crete during summer … it’s  burning hot outside (34 degrees) and I’m finalising an Augmented Reality android educational app for Cultural Heritage.

At least things have become easier the last years after the release of the Unity3D, an extremely powerful and easy to use game platform. By the use also of AR APIs (such as Vuforia or Meteo), text, images and also small objects can be tracked and allow the triggering and presentation of 3D models along with 3D text and voice-over explanations. This leads to a more informative and immersive experience that could easily enhance the level of quality and edutainment in cultural heritage education.

The application I’m working on at the moment is accompanied by a printed map of Crete, displaying aerial photos of the most attractive ancient monuments on the island. By using an android mobile device and hovering over the location of a monument on the map, the relevant 3D model of the monument appears on the screen and can be observed from any side simply by moving closer or tilting the device. There is also a UI that allows the user to listen to the historical information of the specific monument in their preferred language (Greek or English), learning about their story of preservation and their role in the past.

That’s all by now…the beach is calling me 🙂 Day Of(f) Archaeology!”

Nikos Papadopoulos Jr – software engineer

Screenshot from the kinect navigation of the model of Koule Castle

Screenshot from the kinect navigation of the model of Koule Castle

“Hello there,  and many greetings from Rethymno, Crete. Although the day is suitable for going to the beach, I’m working in the lab developing a cultural heritage virtual navigation application for Koule Castle (Iraklion, Crete) based on natural human interaction. The specific application can capture simple user gestures, like steady walking or torso rotation and lean, with the use of a Microsoft Kinect sensor. The gestures are used for navigating in the virtual space of Koules castle offering the user a more immersive cultural experience. All of this this happens thanks to the Unity3D game platform and of course lots of coffee (sorry…programming). Time for some raki now :-)”

And lots more besides:

Quite a few of the scientists at the lab didn’t have time to write something today, or were off elsewhere doing fieldwork or attending meetings and workshops. Other ongoing activities at the lab include using near-surface geophysics to monitor pollution, complex systems and agent based models for historical and archaeological research, GIS classifications of landscapes in terms of geomorphology, risk-mapping, shallow marine geophysics, processing algorithms for GPR data…. I could go on!

I’ve had an amazing year here in Rethymno. I have learned so much, and hopefully I have given something back and passed on some skills to colleagues and students here. I’ll be keeping in touch with the lab team via their facebook page, and I hope to come back to use the huge archive of geophysical data they hold here for a project I am cooking up with my old Dutch colleagues 🙂

As it starts to cool down (a bit), I am going to shut down my computer and head for home, where I will spend what is left of the evening pouring over the other Day of Archaeology posts from around the world, and being very thankful I get to work in such an amazing community.

Happy Day of Archaeology!

Kayt x

Flying high: work experience with Shropshire HER

This week, Victoria James has been on work experience with Shropshire Council’s Historic Environment Team. Here she tells me about what she has been getting up to…

This week I’ve been on work experience with the Historic Environment Team at Shropshire Council, and although the archaeological work going on here isn’t always necessarily hands-on, it’s still as fascinating as ever. The team maintain and compile the Historic Environment Record (HER), which covers every single aspect of the historic environment – including archaeological sites, historic buildings, structures and landscapes – over the entirety of Shropshire.  Much of the work is desk based, but this week one of my tasks has involved working with some of the aerial photographs taken by the team for the HER.

Double ditched Iron Age enclosure and field system, Patten Grange. Much Wenlock. Copyright: Shropshire Council

The team use aerial photography to gain a greater understanding of the archaeology of the county, where past uses of the landscape leave a small trace for the archaeologist to decipher. A key element of this is the formation of cropmarks, which can tell us a lot about what’s going on below the surface. Ditches and walls buried underground affect the crop yield in different ways, as ditches allow the crop to grow better and in a darker colour, whereas buried walls negatively affect crop growth and mean a lighter colour of yield. Although this can be hard to see from the ground, crop marks are clear to see from aerial photographs, which then allow the team to identify areas of archaeological interest and show this to the people working on the land above it.

For me, this was fascinating, as I had no idea that crops could tell us so much about what had happened on that site years before or how aerial photographs could be such a massive help in discovering what’s buried underneath the land. I got to look at many aerial photographs and pick some which will eventually be put to use on the Discovering Shropshire’s History website.

SGetting in the plane

Getting ready to take some aerial photographs on Wednesday. Copyright: Giles Carey

Not only did I get to see some of the previous aerial photographs which had been taken, but during my week of work experience part of the team actually went and took some more. This involved some members of the team getting the opportunity to fly over the county and view the land below, as well as taking some aerial photographs themselves.

Another thing I got to do on work experience was help out reorganising just some of the many books and files that the team has. There were lots of books and files dating back many years from all different topics – although almost all focused on archaeology, buildings or the history of Shropshire – and I had to organise some of these to make them easily accessible to anyone who might need one, which is a likely possibility at any point, given that the team has a variety of things that they have to do.

Additionally, I got to read through an updated version of Pevsner’s book on historic buildings of Shropshire and put these into a spreadsheet to view the corresponding records on the HER and to make a note of any that weren’t there. I found this really interesting because I got to read about different historic buildings in Shropshire and their features, which made me realise just how many there are! Some of the buildings I already knew of beforehand, but I’d never really considered the history of some of them until now, despite the captivating stories behind them.

Overall, this week I’ve been able to see another side of archaeology which isn’t publicised as much as the excavation side of things. The team here still get to go on site visits to different local places of historic significance to try to conserve our local history, but they also get to maintain the HER and do everything that goes along with that. I’ve been able to see what the team really does and how much hard work they have to put into it, but it has also been a really fun week and I’ve learned a lot about not just the job, but about my home county as well.

Victoria James
Work experience student

Many thanks to Victoria, there will be more to follow from the rest of the Historic Environment Team shortly…

Using my new near infra red camera for Archaeology.

Hi all, I was asked to visit two castles this week to take aerial photos of them. I use a kite and have a normal and a near infra red camera, both of which are programmed to take a photo every 10 seconds for about 40 shots.

The first was Dundonnell Castle in south Roscommon , Ireland which sits in an earlier Ring Fort and there is no proper record of when or who started it. It is now being investigated, this week with electrical resistance.

You can see more on facebook at Kite Air Archaeology & Heritage Photography.

A view from above: aerial photography at Portus

This year’s Day of Archaeology coincides with the final day of the 2014 Portus Project field school excavations. This is the second year that the University of Southampton ( and the British School at Rome have run this training course for students from throughout the world. What brings us together is our interest in the maritime trade of Rome in the Mediterranean, the hub of which was the Imperial port of Rome, now a few kilometres inland from the coastline next to Rome’s international airport at Fiumicino.

The final day of excavation for the students was all about recording and checking excavation documentation, as there always seems to be 1 or 2 outstanding context sheets, however hard you try! My role within the project is to support the excavation through surveying, for which we use a range of techniques.

One recording technique that has become fundamental to the excavation, due to its size and complexity, is low level aerial photography. This Friday we were using a cherry picker in order to take oblique photographs of the excavation as well as vertical photographs, both of which are fundamental for standard recording as well as photogrammetry.

Portus Project Cherry Picker photography

Simon Keay (Portus Project Director) and Renato Sebastiani (Soprintendenza Speciale per i Beni Archeologici di Roma) viewing the 2014 excavations from a cherry picker

We’ve been using a range of photographic techniques on site this season (see James Milespost. As the project was running an online MOOC at the same time as the excavation, we’ve tried to help participants by providing located 360 panoramic photographs (using a Motrr).

Aerial Photograph using a Motrr

Panoramic aerial photograph of 2014 Portus Project Excavations (taken using a Motrr)

One area that we are exploring is regular low level site photography using a drone. We’re now using a DJI Innovations S800 Spreading Wings for our photography, mounted with a Sony DS-HSX300.

Portus Project DJI Innovations drone

The DJI Innovations Spreading Wings S800 being used to record the Opus Spicatum floor of the Palazzo Imperiale

We’ll be do more recording this forthcoming week, using the drone to photograph the new findings in the shipyard and the Imperial Palace.

OsservArcheologiA and my “daily devotion” – Day of Archaeology 2014

I’m Mariapia Statile and I’m an archaeologist. Thanks to Day of Archaeology I will tell you a little bit more about me and especially my disclosure archaeological project that is the fixed lens of my day: I call it my “daily devotion”.

I introduce myself. After finishing my artistic studies, I decided to enroll at the Second University of Naples, where I earned a degree in Cultural Heritage, discussing a thesis in Aerotopografia Archaeological, then I took the Master’s Degree in Archaeology with a thesis degree in Ancient Topography. Later on I obtained a Diploma from the School of Specialization in Archaeological at Second University of Naples, Santa Maria Capua Vetere – University of Naples “Suor Orsola Benincasa”, with a diploma thesis about Restoration of archaeological.

During the university studies i have undertaken work activities, study and research, accompanied by internships and training courses concerning the Aerial Photography Methodology applied to archaeological research, the Ancient Topography and Aerotopografic archaeological, Restoration and Conservation of Cultural Heritage, Methodologies vectorization of the documentation and coding functional to presentation, dissemination and publication, together with scientific collaborations with museum exhibition, catalogs with storage, processing and computerization of graphic and photographic documentation, archaeological survey of the structures, analysis and investigation through software graphics processing, as well as participation in various campaigns of archaeological excavation.  Also, I have carried out studies and research with production of specific papers; guidance and illustration of sites and monuments of historical, artistic and archaeological interest. In addition, I had a teaching experience as an external expert in high school. In addition, I am a member of the Italian Confederation of Archaeologists.

This has always been first and foremost a passion that is reflected in the continuous and constant communication, dissemination and promotion of cultural heritage.

My personal path gives the mark to my own project which is called  OsservArcheologiA : it is to “observe” the archeology through the image, so that we can know the importance of what surrounds us and at the same time understand, appreciate, preserve and enhance what we have, becoming aware of our membership with our cultural environment, as good of all.

The structure of this project has been conceived with the aim to convey the immense archaeological, artistic, historic, cultural, national and international level through photographs and historical images, with particular attention to references and cultural events. To obtain this goal is given the opportunity to collaborate to all those who are interested, whether in the field or simply amateurs; OsservArcheologiA can evolve over time thus. It’s basic concept is disclosed by the observation that, in turn, the project itself creates individual interpretation: a dowel that together with the others, leads to the specific meaning of visual exploration: everyone will have the opportunity to observe, learn and discover with their own eyes, and through those of others, the preciousness of culture.

It is an idea that arises due to my training and constant passion for knowledge, history, photography and graphics with special interest in communication and cultural dissemination in the field of history and archeology.

The archaeologist has a duty to pass on his knowledge to offer it to others, knowing the history we know ourselves. Research, Valuation, Exploitation and Dissemination of culture are the goals of the archaeologist in his daily working process.

Mariapia Statile

photo by ©mariapiastatile                                                                                           “I am not especially talented, I am just deeply curious”                                                                                         (Albert Einstein)





Susan Hamilton (RCAHMS) – Dundee

Susan Hamilton, RCAHMS

Susan Hamilton, RCAHMS

Dundee ‘Contains Ordnance Survey data © Crown copyright and database right 2011’

Dundee ‘Contains Ordnance Survey data © Crown copyright and database right 2011’

Spotting Dundee

My very first role at RCAHMS, back in 2000, was a short-term contract in the Collections team.  It was a wonderful job for a brand new archaeology graduate, as I got to know the Commission’s collections; not just the archaeological archives and photographs that I was already vaguely familiar with, but also the huge range of architectural material, and the massive aerial photographic collections.

Working with aerial photography took up much of my time in my first few months. RCAHMS holds a lot of early aerial photography, including surveys of Scotland undertaken in the years following the Second World War, when RAF pilots who had been undertaking overseas reconnaissance missions took part in Operation Revue. This provided detailed domestic photographic coverage for use by the Ordnance Survey in mapping, and also helped guide post-war reconstruction.

Hilltown, Dundee, showing the distinctive rectangles of the football stadia towards the top right. 10 April 1946.

Hilltown, Dundee, showing the distinctive rectangles of the football stadia towards the top right. 10 April 1946. Copyright RCAHMS (NCAP Reference: 006-001-000-141-R)

This early aerial photography is of great use to archaeologists today as it pre-dates the large-scale plantings of the Forestry Commission, thus providing some of the only evidence of archaeological sites subsequently shrouded in tree cover.

Amongst other Collections Assistant tasks, one of my duties was to check through what must have amounted to miles of photographic negatives – the products of Operation Revue. In particular, I was looking for signs that cellulose nitrate film had been used.

Used until the 1950s for aerial photography, cellulose nitrate film can degrade over time and become volatile, releasing poisonous gases and catching fire easily.  The temperatures at which this can happen are relatively low – around 38 degrees centigrade, and although all the RCAHMS film canisters were stored in a secure, temperature-controlled store, it was very important to carry out a thorough check for this type of stock.

In the first round of checking, it was enough to open the tins one by one, and check for indications of cellulose nitrate film. A small number were found – the film having reacted with the metal canister to produce a distinctive brown powder and acrid smell. They were safely disposed of, the film having decomposed too much to be useable.

Once the initial fast checks were completed, I moved onto more general condition checking. Although the fast check had demonstrated that most of the film was of less hazardous types, research had shown that different types of film were often spliced together to create larger, continuous rolls, so there may still have been some cellulose nitrate lurking in the collection.

To carry out the condition checking, I loaded the spools of film onto a hand winder, and whirred through the negatives.

This is where Dundee comes into the story.

Oblique aerial view of Dundee, 1948, with original cropmarkings Copyright RCAHMS (NCAP Reference: 006-001-026-209-R)

Oblique aerial view of Dundee, 1948, with original cropmarkings Copyright RCAHMS (NCAP Reference: 006-001-026-209-R)

There were a lot of films to check, so I couldn’t spend a long time looking at images – although it was tempting.  It was difficult to make out much detail at first, as the risk to cellulose nitrate from any form of heat meant that the films couldn’t be viewed on a light box.  As an Edinburgh native, I could occasionally make out the regular streets of the New Town, but other than that I was surprised and frustrated at how little I could identify.  However, as I began to get my ‘eye in’ I quickly noticed how certain features stood out, especially in smoke-filled, uniformly-arranged urban areas. As a football fan, my eye was often drawn to football pitches with their distinctive markings and I realised that the only city I could quickly identify as I was whirring across it was Dundee – because the two football clubs in that city have their stadia across the street from one another!  ‘Spotting Dundee’ became a game I played whenever the task became a little tedious, and I also began to regularly recognise the sinuous paths up Dundee Law.

image of oblique aerial view centred on the S part of the prefab estate, taken from the NE. Copyright RCAHMS (SC1111732)

image of oblique aerial view centred on the S part of the prefab estate, taken from the NE. Copyright RCAHMS (SC1111732)

Once I recognised Dundee, I could also make out some of the nearby coastal towns in Angus, and this led to my best discovery – an incredible moment-in-time shot of prefabricated housing being delivered and constructed in Arbroath.  The image seems to have been taken from a much lower height than others – I like to think the pilot was going in for a closer look! Since that first contract, I’ve been lucky enough to have a range of posts at RCAHMS, but I will always have great memories of that first job and introduction to aerial photography.

This is what I’ve chosen for Day of Archaeology, but why not tell us your favourite archaeological sites in Scotland on Twitter using #MyArchaeology.




Robert Adam RCAHMS Day of Archaeology

My name is Robert Adam and I am an Aerial Photographer with the RCAHMS and part of my photographic duties are to record photographically archaeological and architectural sites from the air and on the ground. In 2007, I accompanied a survey team to record sites in the Yarrows area of Sutherland and The Grey Cairns Of Camster was one of the many sites I was assigned to photograph.
I was lucky enough to accompany my colleagues to the Yarrows area a few years ago as part of an archeological survey team in 2007. One of the many sites I photographed, the Grey Cairns Of Camster stand out. Not only are they constructed beautifully, it is amazing that they have stood so long intact considering the desolate and remote area they are in. The weather for instance should have been a factor in their ruin. It was a tight squeeze to get in and quite difficult to light and photograph it to show of the fine features. I am no archaeologist, but it was a highlight of my field work trip to photograph the two cairns and learn about their history from my colleagues.

RCAHMS – Susan Dibdin IfA Bursary in Building Recording

My name is Susan Dibdin and I am on the IfA bursary in Building Recording at RCAHMS for 12 months. I’m actually about 9 months through my placement now.

For the first 6 months of my placement I was working on the Threatened Building programme and through that I visited a lot of different threatened buildings throughout Scotland. We do desk-based research before visiting a site, and during field work make a decision on what should be recorded and which way if best to do to – whether it’s by photographic survey or a graphical survey.

I’ve moved onto the Urban Survey program, and I’m currently working on an urban characterisation study of Bo’ness. This involves sorting the town into different character areas based on historical development and topography as well as current day characteristics.

As part of the Urban Survey we’ll also update the Canmore record with new photography of Bo’ness – streetscapes as well as individual buildings. That’s actually what I’ve been doing today – I’ve put through 25 requisitions for individual building photography and I’ve also requisitioned general street views of the 18 character areas. That means that our professional photographers will know where to take the photographs!

Once the photographs have been taken and processed they’ll go into Canmore and I’ll work on captioning these. Today I also received a batch of aerial photographs from the photographers, which help to illustrate the street patterns etc. These will also form part of the characterisation study report to explain the character of the different areas of Bo’ness and how the towns developed over the centuries.

Working on the DART project: Hyperspectral remote sensing and archaeology

My name is David Stott and I am a PhD student at the University of Leeds. I’m working on the DART project, which is looking at improving our understanding of how archaeological deposits are detected using remote sensing techniques. This work is important, as remote sensing allows us to prospect for archaeological features and understand the nature of archaeological landscapes. This is crucial as better knowledge about the nature and location of significant cultural heritage sites enables us to protect them by mitigating human actions and environmental processes that place them at risk.