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Mapping endangered cultural soilscapes in post-conflict regions through Big Earth Observation Data, artificial intelligence and geoarchaeological signatures


SIGNATURE aims to investigate the long-term settlement and land use dynamics that shaped the cultural soilscapes of the Levant, with a particular emphasis on revealing new archaeological sites that have been obscured by recent agricultural encroachment and abrupt land disturbances. The study area encompasses the endangered archaeological landscapes of the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon and its adjacent fertile plains between the Litani and Orontes rivers. As an aftermath of the Lebanese Civil War and the long-lasting conflict spillovers that followed, the traditional agronomic landscapes of the Bekaa were severely transformed by agricultural autarky. The scarce initiatives that are set in place to map vulnerable heritage primarily focus on well-known, monumental sites such as the UNESCO complex of Baalbek. Other fragile and less visible archaeological and landscape features such as eroded earthen mounds or tells are largely under-represented.
SIGNATURE combines Big Earth Observation Data and geoarchaeological signatures in computational workflows to 1) accurately map and predict the location of anthropogenic soils and landforms, 2) monitor historical and present-day land use trends, and 3) identify acute landscape transformations affecting the preservation of vulnerable archaeological and heritage assets. A key aspect of the project methodology is the integration of multi-source and multi-temporal satellite data in artificial intelligence procedures, coupled with ground and high-resolution soil proxies in advanced geostatistical workflows. SIGNATURE will produce and share a set of comparable data and reproducible tools for the study and management of endangered cultural landscapes, likely to be adapted and implemented by scholars and Cultural Heritage practitioners working in conflict and post-conflict regions.


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
Non-EU contribution
No data