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Project aims

During the past decades, many interesting and powerful algorithms for automatic image matching and georeferencing became available. However, a complete practical workflow that can directly be applied to historical and newly acquired (with and without direct observation of the camera position and orientation) archaeological aerial photographs is still missing.

In that way, the project will break new scientific ground. In order to fulfil these requirements, the project will focus on available open source software solutions as well as on a state-of-the-art integrated soft- and hardware approach with actual available sensor systems. The general project aim can thus be subdivided in four individual but interconnected objectives:

  1. to evaluate a calibrated digital still camera (DSC) with an attached positioning and orientation system (POS) for archaeological prospection and automated orthophoto production = hardware approach;
  2. automatic orientation of APs without accurate initial positioning and rotation information. It will be primarily based on image matching algorithms using available orthophotos and digital terrain models = software approach;
  3. both approaches will be implemented in the conventional aerial reconnaissance work from a small aeroplane as well as in an innovative method using an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) to acquire aerial imagery completely autonomously and being independent on conventional aircrafts;
  4. an archaeological case study will serve to test and evaluate all proposed solutions for automated orthophoto generation. The proposed 250 km² large area is largely covered by vertical and oblique APs from various years and seasons, with scales ranging from 1:25 000 to 1:5 000. The evaluation should identify problems and improve our approach, both using conventional aeroplanes as well as UAVs. The case study should also result in written guidelines about the methods of proper aerial data acquisition and georeferencing.

It is expected that the outcome of this project will be of high importance for the archaeological discipline and beyond. By providing archaeologists with easy to implement methods for air photo rectification, the enormous amount of valuable information on archaeological landscapes will be accessible to mapping. This could have a dramatic effect on the future archaeological process, where accurate, detailed and coherent GIS-based maps of whole regions can add important information for directing archaeological research and cultural heritage management.

FWF-Project P24116-N23:
Automated (ortho)rectification of archaeological aerial photographs

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