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Capturing Complexity: Toward an Integrated Low-Altitude Photogrammetry and Mobile Geographic Information System Archaeological Registry System

  • Steven A. Wernke (a1), Julie A. Adams (a2) and Eli R. Hooten (a2)
Abstract

Medium-scale archaeological phenomena (large settlements, landscape features and infrastructural systems, road networks, etc.) pose significant challenges to archaeological documentation. Traditionally, such features are mapped either schematically or via labor-intensive (or otherwise costly) high-resolution methods. The advent of inexpensive, packable unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and lighter-than-air platforms, combined with increasingly sophisticated photogrammetric and mobile geographic information system (GIS) software systems, presents opportunities for improving on these compromises. Here, we present results from test flights and photogrammetric mapping using UAVs and a meteorological balloon, combined with mobile GIS-based attribute registry of architectonic features at a large, complex colonial planned settlement (Mawchu Llacta de Tuti) in highland colonial Peru. First, the operating parameters of UAVs are presented, as well as the imagery capture and photogrammetric processing work flows. Second, we provide an overview of the tablet-based mobile GIS system used to digitize a site plan (based on the imagery from the UAV) and register architectural attributes from each building. The results from initial testing suggest that in the near future, such combined close-range photogrammetry and mobile GIS-based systems will significantly enhance and expedite high-resolution data registry of a wide range of archaeological features, sites, and landscapes.

Fenómenos arqueológicos de escala media (asentamientos grandes, rasgos de paisaje y sistemas de infraestructura, redes de caminos, etc.) presentan retos significativos para la documentación arqueológica. Tradicionalmente se levantan planos de tales rasgos o esquemáticamente o por métodos de alta resolución necesitando labor intensivo (o costosos en otros sentidos). El advento de vehículos aéreos no tripulados (“drones” o UAV) económicos y portátiles, tanto como plataformas más leves del aire, combinado con sistemas de información geográfica y software fotogramétrico cada vez más sofisticado presenta oportunidades para mejorar estos compromisos. Aquí presentamos los resultados de los vuelos iniciales de prueba y ortomapeo tridimensional usando UAV y un globo meteorológico, en combinación con un Sistema de Información Geográficas (SIG) móvil para el registro de atributos de rasgos arquitectónicas en una grande y complejo asentamiento planificado colonial (Mawchu Llacta de Tuti) en la sierra suroeste del Perú. En primer lugar, se presentan los parámetros de funcionamiento de los UAV, así como la captura de imágenes y los flujos de trabajo de procesamiento fotogramétrico. En segundo lugar, ofrecemos una visión general del sistema SIG móvil utilizada para digitalizar un plano del sitio (basado en los imágenes procesados del UAV) y para registrar los atributos arquitectónicos de cada edificio y rasgos visible en la superficie del sitio. Los resultados de las pruebas iniciales sugieren que en un futuro próximo, tales sistemas combinados entre SIG móvil y fotogrametría de baja altitud mejorarán de manera significativa y acelerará el registro de datos de alta resolución de una amplia gama de sitios arqueológicos y las características del paisaje.

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Advances in Archaeological Practice
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