Skip to main content

Radiography of the past. Integrated non-destructive approaches to understand and valorise complex archaeological sites

Article Category

Article available in the folowing languages:

Non-invasive approaches to archaeological fieldwork

An EU-funded consortium of seven partners has explored various non-destructive approaches for research carried out at complex archaeological sites. Project outcomes have significant implications for future research in archaeological diagnostics.

Climate Change and Environment

Through fieldwork and data collection and processing, the RADIO-PAST project generated valuable insights and provided new tools supporting enhanced management of cultural heritage. Researchers conducted a wide range of scientific activities in an 'open laboratory' for experimentation, which was situated at the Roman townsite of Ammaia in central Portugal. Other fieldwork projects in Europe were used as a reference base for comparative research related to historical contexts and geographic settings. These sites are in Greece, France, Italy and Austria. The seven-partner consortium's involvement in these projects covered field survey techniques and new avenues for data processing, modelling, 3D visualisation and site presentation. A full coverage geophysical survey and remote sensing of the Ammaia site was finalised, as were a series of tests with different survey approaches and ground truthing. Comparative research results informed proposals for methodological guidelines to the non-destructive survey of complex sites. Project activities included training, international forums, and the organisation of two international colloquia on non-destructive approaches. Scientific contributions are available on the RADIO-PAST's multimedia-based website. The team further developed innovative means of visualising survey data. These include digital reconstructions, visualisations and fusion video material of the full Ammaia townsite as well as some of the surveyed urban sites in Italy and Austria. To test the potential for integrating interior museum displays with exterior spaces, didactic materials and a museum exhibition package were used to present the Portuguese, Italian and Austrian sites. Other achievements include the publication of a 'Guide to Good Practice' in the field of non-destructive survey. This is applicable to large and complex sites across Europe. An instructional video on how non-destructive survey can be successfully applied to complex archaeological sites is available through the website. Furthermore, RADIO-PAST produced and finalised a model for the study and cultural management of large and complex abandoned sites. The results of this project are expected to impact the management of cultural heritage and resources, and onsite and museum displays. Proposed guidelines will benefit policymakers and relevant authorities, and can facilitate decision making with regard to conservation strategies. The success of RADIO-PAST also means wider public access to archaeological knowledge.


Non-destructive approach, archaeological site, cultural heritage, field survey, geophysical, museum display,

Discover other articles in the same domain of application