Interpreting archaeological topography: 3D data, visualization and observation.

Author:Coakley, Corrine

Interpreting archaeological topography: 3D data, visualization and observation, edited by Rachel S. Opitz and David C. Cowley, Oxford, Oxbow Books, 2013, 288 pp., US$66.60 (hbk), ISBN 978-1-84217-516-3

This book is a combined effort between the editors, authors, and ArchaeoLandscapes Europe, an organization self-described as "established to support the development of aerial approaches and remote sensing techniques across Europe, to encourage the exchange of expertise and skills, to foster cooperation between archaeological institutions, and to enhance public awareness" (iv). This volume in particular aims to publicize the applications of Light Detection And Ranging (LiDAR), remote-sensing techniques, and web-based GIScience in research, education, and conservation contexts. The authors describe a pressing need to integrate the benefits that archaeological fieldwork and 3D data bring to research in order to make the most of both methods. The ability of 3D research to enhance the understanding of on-the-ground survey methods and vice versa is a main focus of the volume, as is expanding the awareness of this approach to gathering archaeological knowledge.

This book proceeds from a description of the LiDAR and 3D data-gathering process to issues of interpretation both technical and subjective. It emphasizes the inclusion of multiple viewpoints, literal and theoretical, when gathering, assessing, and sharing remote-sensing data. The authors stress the importance of collaborative research in gathering and interpreting 3D data, as well as the need to look beyond traditional GIScience methods and experiment with open data networks and gaming-based visualization systems.

Split into three sections, the book explores the meaning and uses of LiDAR in landscape exploration. In the first section, pitfalls and challenges to both aerial imaging and traditional landscape surveying methods are explored. This begins with a discussion of the techniques and science involved in generating aerial imagery and the basic formats in which images are recorded, viewed, and shared. Next, an overview of interpretation methods specific to aerial 3D imagery is presented, which neatly explains the steps necessary to take an image from capture to post-processing. The importance of human judgment-calls and the possibility of error in any mapping endeavor, however new or technologically savvy, are addressed. This book is especially succinct in presenting technical details...

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