The evaluation of Corona and Ikonos satellite imagery for archaeological applications in a semi-arid environment
Archaeologists have been aware of the potential of satellite imagery as a tool almost since the first Earth remote sensing satellite. Initially sensors such as Landsat had a ground resolution which was too coarse for thorough archaeological prospection although the imagery was used for geo-archaeological and enviro-archaeological analyses. In the intervening years the spatial and spectral resolution of these sensing devices has improved. In recent years two important occurrences enhanced the archaeological applicability of imagery from satellite platforms: The declassification of high resolution photography by the American and Russian governments and the deregulation of commercial remote sensing systems allowing the collection of sub metre resolution imagery. This thesis aims to evaluate the archaeological application of three potentially important resources; Corona space photography and Ikonos panchromatic and multispectral imager). These resources are evaluated in conjunction with Landsat Thematic Mapper (TM) imagery over a 600 square km study area in the semi-arid environment around Homs, Syria. The archaeological resource in this area is poorly understood, mapped and documented. The images are evaluated for their ability to create thematic layers and to locate archaeological residues in different environmental zones. Further consideration is given to the physical factors that allow archaeological residues to be identified and how satellite imagery and modern technology may impact on Cultural Resource Management. This research demonstrates that modern high resolution and historic satellite imagery can be important tools for archaeologists studying in semi-arid environments. The imagery has allowed a representative range of archaeological features and landscape themes to be identified. The research shows that the use of satellite imagery can have significant impact on the design of the archaeological survey in the middle-east and perhaps in other environments.