EAC - Europae Archaeologiae Consilium

Remote sensing for archaeology

This working party is concerned with the promotion of techniques and development of best practice in remote sensing archaeology, with a particular focus on heritage management. Remote sensing underpins a large proportion of archaeological knowledge, including the detection and registration of monuments and the creation of reliable records, large-scale mapping and the monitoring and management of monument condition. The remit ranges from long-established techniques such as aerial reconnaissance in light aircraft to data sources at the cutting edge of research, and from ground-based geophysical survey to applications of Airborne Laser Scanning and satellite and aerial imagery. Both terrestrial and maritime contexts are addressed, with a common focus on the importance of understanding and managing the landscape. Its work is directed to the development of broad-based strategies and, especially with reference to heritage management, statements of best practice and standards and long term collaborative frameworks.

Part of a Roman landscape mapped using a magnetometer by members of the DART project.

The working party takes its direction from Article 3 of the Valletta Convention of the Council of Europe, which emphasizes the importance of applying, wherever possible, non-destructive methods of investigation. In addition by encouraging the development of archaeological prospecting techniques in a landscape framework it hopes to support the aims of the European Landscape Convention (ELC) to promote integrated landscape protection, management and planning.

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Airborne Laser Scan (LiDAR) of a forested area before and after filtering (St. Anna in der Wuste, Austria). Technologies such as Airborne Laser Scanning have revolutionized archaeological survey in forested land. © Michael Doneus and Klaus Löcker, LBI-ARCHPRO, Vienna

The working party is a partnership between the EAC, the Aerial Archaeology Research Group (AARG) and the International Society for Archaeological Prospection (ISAP), and thus represents the interests of heritage management, archaeological practitioners and researchers. It is a development from the EAC/AARG Aerial Archaeology working party established in 2007. The coordination of the working party is undertaken by AARG (Dave Cowley), ISAP (Dr Chris Gaffney) and EAC (Dr Kristín Huld Sigurðardóttir, Bernard Randoin).

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Integrated suites of prospection techniques are required to create reliable information that can support heritage management and academic research – here illustrated in the ‘total archaeology’ approach pioneered by the University of Siena. © Stefano Campana.


  • In 2009 the EAC/AARG Aerial Archaeology working party produced a report and collected papers on Education in Aerial Remote Sensing for Archaeology. This was published as AARG Occasional Publication Series No 1 in April 2009 and is available as a free download PDF
  • In 2010 the 11th EAC Heritage Management Symposium was held in Reykjavík, Iceland, on the subject of Remote Sensing for Archaeological Heritage Management in the 21st century. The proceedings were published in March 2011 by Archaeolingua as Cowley, D (ed.), Remote Sensing for Archaeological Heritage Management (EAC Occasional Paper No. 5 / Occasional Publication of the Aerial Archaeology Research Group No. 3)


Links and contacts 

Aerial Archaeology Research Group

Contact: Dave Cowley - dave.cowley@rcahms.gov.uk
International Society for Archaeological Prospection
Contact: Dr Chris Gaffney - C.Gaffney@Bradford.ac.uk