Ladislav SMEJDA

(University of West Bohemia, Pilsen, Czech Republic)

This paper describes an attempt to identify, register and communicate areas of archaeological interest in the landscape through an interpretation of aerial photographs and digital mapping. In addition to positively recorded archaeological features in the traditional meaning (pits, ditches, banks, tumuli etc.) my attention is also aimed to areas that are likely to produce environmental and contextual record of the past human-nature interaction. Soil erosion and accumulation, as well as the effects of agriculture, forest management and construction works have continuously been transforming the evidence, which must be taken into account. In this respect, large archives of vertical aerial photographs are invaluable source for a long-term monitoring of the immovable part of cultural heritage, especially when effectively combined with other methods of archaeological prospection and documentation. Basic tools applied in my approach include digital photogrammetry, GIS mapping and the network of servers offering related geospatial information. Suggested technical solution is based on a geodatabase that represents the core element in the dialog between different kinds of data and their interpreters. This solution offers a range of possibilities as regards working in interdisciplinary teams, issues of data archiving and flexible publication of models describing current knowledge and present assumptions about particular regions, to be tested by new fieldwork. Threats to archaeological monuments and heritage complexes in a broader sense can be assessed both qualitatively and quantitatively, which may lead to the adoption of appropriate measures for their further protection and research.

Keywords: archaeological potential, aerial photogrammetry, GIS servers, cultural heritage monitoring