Lidar and remote sensing in archaeology

We have been employing airborne remote sensing Lidar (Light Detection and Ranging) laser-scanning technology in the Lapland’s Dark Heritage since the early days, when the first Lidar material became available from Finnish Lapland (from around 2010, so even before the Lapland’s Dark Heritage time as part of the project Landscapes of Finnish Conflicts in 2003-2011).

Lidar remote sensing data allows you to examine a 3-dimensional model of the landscape (so-called Digital Terrain or Elevation Model), which highlights features such as pits, trenches and piles. These can direct field research and sites can be spotted in GIS (Geographic Information Systems) even before going on field!

Besides Lidar, we have recently employed historical airphotos taken by German Luftwaffe and Finnish Air Force in our studies in Kilpisjärvi area in our project Legacies of Conflict.

Below you can see a few examples of what Lidar and historical aerial imagery looks like when compared to normal aerial photographs, illustrated with slider images (move slider by clicking on it). Links to a few articles about Lidar use in the Nordic archaeology can be found below the images:

First World War defences at Pirkkola, Helsinki: Left: Airphoto; Right: Lidar visualisation:

Pattijoki Kastelli Neolithic “Giant’s Church”, housepits and stone cairns: Left: Airphoto; Right Lidar visualisation:

A comparison of a modern airphoto (Left) and a historical aerial photograph of a German Second World War encampment on Saana Fjell in the winter 1944-1945 (Right), results of our recent Legacies of Conflict work with Birger Stichelbaut, Wouter Gheyle and Gertjan Plets:

Read more about Lidar and historical aerial image use and its potential in the Nordic archaeology:

Lidar-kaukokartoitus arkeologien apuna, O. Seitsonen 2019, Positio-lehti, a popular paper in Finnish

Employment, Utilization, and Development of Airborne Laser Scanning in Fenno-Scandinavian Archaeology – a Review, O. Risbøl, D. Langhammer, E. Schlosser Mauritsen & O. Seitsonen 2020, Remote Sensing, a review of Lidar use in the archaeology of the Nordic countries

Operation Northern Light: a remote sensing approach to Second World War Conflict archaeology in Northern Finland (Kilpisjärvi, Enontekiö), B. Stichelbaut, S. Thomas, O. Seitsonen, W. Gheyle, G. De Mulder, V. Hemminki, & G. Plets 2020, teoksessa Nicholas Saunders & Paul Cornish (toim.): Conflict Landscapes: Materiality and Meaning in Contested Places. Routledge.