Archaeological site detection and monitoring

During the last decades computational automatic or semiautomatic approaches have been adapted from related disciplines aiming at the prediction, location and/or monitoring the presence of archaeological sites and features. A series of factors have conditioned the adoption of these approaches. These include the nature of the feature to be detected and of the landscape around it. Equally important, the availability of sources and technical limitations, possibilities and capacities have been critical in the adoption of different strategies. Last but not least, the adopted strategies are based on different theoretical and conceptual basis of the discipline.

However, during the last years the increase availability of computational power, new and more efficient algorithms and procedures and new types of datasets have made possible for the first time capable large-scale high-resolution site detection. This has resulted in a strong increase in the publication of case-studies that showcase the usefulness of specific technical applications and methodological approaches. Although this is an extremely fertile moment for the development of innovative computational approaches for site detection, a series of issues should be considered to avoid potential setbacks in the discipline, for example:

However, during the last years the increase availability of computational power, new and more efficient algorithms and procedures and new types of datasets have made possible for the first time capable large-scale high-resolution site detection. This has resulted in a strong increase in the publication of case-studies that showcase the usefulness of specific technical applications and methodological approaches. Although this is an extremely fertile moment for the development of innovative computational approaches for site detection, a series of issues should be considered to avoid potential setbacks in the discipline, for example:

-> The multiplication of approaches can result in reduced reproducibility and comparability and a lack of standardised procedures adapted to specific archaeological situations. This can also result in a reduced efficiency compared to potential gold standards.
-> Application of ready-made methods without enough background knowledge.
-> Strong biases on the selection of methods based on geography, technical capacity and the availability of sources.
-> Lack of integration in common archaeological workflows.

This is, therefore, an excellent moment to develop standards and guide specific archaeological procedures. With this aim in mind, this workshop will endeavour to gather a group of recognised experts in the application of different site location methods to share procedures and experience that can serve to direct future applications under a common ground.

The meeting will encourage discussion on the conceptual basis underlying the application of site detection technologies, the nature of archaeological sites, the need for data validation and ground-truthing, and the new horizons that these new techniques open for large scale archaeological interpretations.

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