Computational Investigation of the Topographical and Architectural Designs in an Evolving Landscape

Aaron PATTEE | Hubert MARA
(Heidelberg University, Heidelberg, Germany)

Keywords: Photogrammetry, Laserscanning, Maps, GIS

This interdisciplinary project spanning art history, archaeology, anthropology, history, computer science, remote sensing, and geoinformatics explores the implementation of multi-sensor data fusion integrating photogrammetry, laserscanning, GIS (Geographical Information Systems), and historical documents to establish a more holistic understanding of the effect of the landscape on medieval fortress design in the area of Kaiserslautern, Germany during the Middle Ages. The primary objective of the project is to derive the strategic and geopolitical reasoning for the construction of six defensive sites.
Throughout the known history of the Pfalz, the region has been consistently ravaged by war, suffering intense periods of scorched-earth tactics, depopulation, deforestation, industrialization and subsequent pollution. The project is using computational methods to determine the effect that the medieval landscape had on the design, position, and strategy of the test sites chosen at the Institut für Europäische Kunstgeschichte with assistance from the Insitut für Pfälzische Geschichte und Volkskunde. All of the sites will be modeled using photogrammetric and laserscanning techniques and linked into a digital landscape model based upon aerial laserscan (ALS) data with assistance from the GIScience research group. Contextual information derived from historical documents and maps with support from the HeiMAP project will create a more complete depiction of the medieval territory once controlled by these prominent structures. Integral invariant filters, non-maximum suppression, and other mesh-processing algorithms will be applied to the digital landscape model using FCGL’s GigaMesh software framework.
Essentially, information regarding the depiction of the landscape has been hidden over the past 800 years by the destruction of the sites, the extreme alteration of the landscape, and the loss of archival material. CITADEL will overcome these obstacles, by establishing a methodology to open a portal into the past.

Relevance conference / Relevance session:
The project focuses upon the recording of historical/archaeological sites that are in dire need of preservation.

It is using 3D modeling techniques in addition to medieval texts and maps.


  1. Sapirstein, „Accurate Measurement with Photogrammetry at Large Sites,“ Journal of Archaeological Science, Bd. 66, pp. 137-145, 2016.
  2. Richards-Rissetto und K. Landau, „Movement as a means of (re)production: using GIS to measure social integration across urban landscapes,“ Journal of Archaeological Science, Bd. 41, pp. 365-375, 2014.