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Proceedings Paper

Small drones for geo-archaeology in the steppes: locating and documenting the archaeological heritage of the Orkhon Valley in Mongolia
Author(s): M. Oczipka; J. Bemmann; H. Piezonka; J. Munkabayar; B. Ahrens; M. Achtelik; F. Lehmann
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Paper Abstract

The international project "Geo-Archaeology in the Steppe - Reconstruction of Cultural Landscapes in the Orkhon valley, Central Mongolia" was set up in July 2008. It is headed by the Department of Pre- and Protohistoric Archaeology of Bonn University. The project aims at the study of prehistoric and historic settlement patterns, human impact on the environment and the relation between towns and their hinterland in the Orkhon valley, Central Mongolia. The multidisciplinary project is mainly sponsored for three years by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and bridges archaeology, natural sciences and engineering (sponsorship code 01UA0801C). Archaeologists of the Mongolian Academy of Sciences and of the Bonn University, geographers of Free University Berlin, geophysics of the Institute for Photonic Technology Jena and the RWTH Aachen University, and geographers and engineers of the German Aerospace Centre Berlin collaborate in the development of new technologies and their application in archaeology1. On the basis of Russian aerial photographs from the 1970s, an initial evaluation regarding potential archaeological sites was made. Due to the poor geometric and radiometric resolution of these photographs, identification of archaeological sites in many cases remained preliminary, and detailed information on layout and size could not be gained. The aim of the flight campaign in September 2008 was therefore the confirmation of these sites as well as their high resolution survey. A 10 megapixel range finder camera was used for the recording of high resolution aerial photography. This image data is suited for accurate determination and mapping of selected monuments. The airborne camera was adapted and mounted on an electrically operated eight propeller small drone. Apart from high resolution geo-referenced overview pictures, impressive panoramic images and very high resolution overlapping image data was recorded for photogrammetric stereoscopic processing. Due to the overlap of 85% along and across the track each point in the image data is recorded in at least four pictures. Although a smaller overlap might be sufficient for generating digital surface models (DSM), this redundancy increases the reliability of the DSM generation. Within this photogrammetric processing digital surface models and true ortho photo mosaics with a resolution up to 2,5 cm/pixel in X, Y, Z are derived.

Paper Details

Date Published: 7 October 2009
PDF: 11 pages
Proc. SPIE 7478, Remote Sensing for Environmental Monitoring, GIS Applications, and Geology IX, 747806 (7 October 2009); doi: 10.1117/12.830404
Show Author Affiliations
M. Oczipka, German Aerospace Ctr. (Germany)
J. Bemmann, Bonn Univ. (Germany)
H. Piezonka, Bonn Univ. (Germany)
J. Munkabayar, Institue of Archaeology (Mongolia)
B. Ahrens, Bonn Univ. (Germany)
M. Achtelik, Ascending Technologies GmbH (Germany)
F. Lehmann, German Aerospace Ctr. (Germany)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 7478:
Remote Sensing for Environmental Monitoring, GIS Applications, and Geology IX
Ulrich Michel; Daniel L. Civco, Editor(s)

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