Remote Sensing (2021-03-01)

Object-Based Predictive Modeling (OBPM) for Archaeology: Finding Control Places in Mountainous Environments

  • Luigi Magnini,
  • Cinzia Bettineschi

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 13, no. 1197
p. 1197


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This contribution examines the potential of object-based image analysis (OBIA) for archaeological predictive modeling starting from elevation data, by testing a ruleset for the location of “control places” on two test areas in the Alpine environment (northern Italy). The ruleset was developed on the western Asiago Plateau (Vicenza Province, Veneto) and subsequently re-applied (semi)automatically in the Isarco Valley (South Tirol). Firstly, we considered the physiographic, climatic, and morphological characteristics of the selected areas and we applied 3 DTM processing techniques: Slope, local dominance, and solar radiation. Subsequently, we employed an object-based approach to classification. Solar radiation, local dominance, and slope were visualized as a three-layer RGB image that was segmented with the multiresolution algorithm. The classification was implemented with a ruleset that selected only image–objects with high local dominance and solar radiation, but low slope, which were considered more suitable parameters for human occupation. The classification returned five areas on the Asiago Plateau that were remotely and ground controlled, confirming anthropic exploitation covering a time span from protohistory (2nd-1st millennium BC) to the First World War. Subsequently, the same model was applied to the Isarco Valley to verify the replicability of the method. The procedure resulted in 36 potential control places which find good correspondence with the archaeological sites discovered in the area. Previously unknown contexts were further controlled using very high-resolution (VHR) aerial images and digital terrain model (DTM) data, which often suggested a possible (pre-proto)historic human frequentation. The outcomes of the analysis proved the feasibility of the approach, which can be exported and applied to similar mountainous landscapes for site predictivity analysis.