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Ancient irrigation detection and analysis using advanced remote sensing methods


Ancient irrigation systems are probably the first human large-scale landscape modifications. The analysis of the ancient irrigation systems that gave rise to and sustained the first urban civilisations goes well-beyond the study of ancient irrigation to touch topics such as climate change, sustainability, population dynamics, and ancient economy, all at the core of urbanisation as a deeply human phenomenon, perhaps the most important change in the history of humanity.
For many decades ancient water management research in archaeology was mainly focused on the Near East and surrounding regions with similar hydroclimatic conditions. The political situation in that region and, as a consequence, the lack of new data nearly stopped further scientific activities. The relevance of this research topic, however, did not decrease and many methods for the study of ancient irrigation and water management using remote sensing haven been developed during the last years.
However, most previous approaches are region-focused (lacking applicability to other environments) and have mostly detected isolated channels, which complicates the study and understanding of the network that constituted ancient irrigation systems.
UnderTheSands will employ a combination of novel remote sensing techniques (including Multi-Scale Relief Model, Seasonal Multitemporal Vegetation Indices, hybrid machine-deep learning algorithms, archaeomorphology, spatial correlation indices, and historical analyses) and sources (including multispectral imaging, synthetic aperture radar, and TanDEM-X) to produce a workflow for the detection and analysis of ancient irrigation networks in diverse environments. These methods and the training provided during their implementation by a team of leading international researchers will enhance the candidate's profile with cutting-edge techniques that will situate him at the forefront of research in ancient irrigation and boost his career.


Institut Català d'Arqueologia Clàssica
Net EU contribution
€ 181 152,96
Plaça Rovellat S/n
43003 Tarragona

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Este Cataluña Tarragona
Activity type
Research Organisations
Other funding
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