Michael DONEUS

(Department for Prehistoric and Early Medieval Archaeology, University of Vienna, Austria)

Airborne Laserscanning (also referred to as LiDAR) is a rather new technology, which has the potential to revolutionise terrain modelling and archaeological prospeting of vegetated areas.
Because the technology is sound, more and more archaeological projects are using digital terrain models derived from airborne laserscanner data. Since the production of the data involves a considerable amount of money, most applications use general purpose data, which are usually cheaper or are sometimes even provided for free for scientific applications. The main problem that comes with this kind of data is the usual lack of meta-information. The archaeologist often does not get the information about original point density, time of flight, instrument used, type of flying platform, procedure of filtering etc. Therefore, airborne laser scanning becomes a kind of “black box”, where the derived DTM is used without further knowledge about underlying technology and metadata. Therefore, there is a high potential that the data used will not be suitable for the archaeological application.
Using the experience of a two-year project “LiDAR-Supported Archaeological Prospection in Woodland”, we want to explore the potential of ALS for archaeological reconnaissance in a densely forested area and draw the attention to some critical parameters of laserscanning, which should be known to the data-user. Also, issues will be discussed, which need to be solved in near future.

Keywords: Airborne Laserscanning, LiDAR, archaeological prospection,