Remote Sensing (2020-06-01)

Deserted Medieval Village Reconstruction Using Applied Geosciences

  • Alexandru Hegyi,
  • Apostolos Sarris,
  • Florin Curta,
  • Cristian Floca,
  • Sorin Forțiu,
  • Petru Urdea,
  • Alexandru Onaca,
  • Fabian Timofte,
  • Michał Pisz,
  • Sergiu Timuț,
  • Mădălina Nica,
  • Daiana Maciulschi,
  • Andrei Stavilă

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 12, no. 1975
p. 1975


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This study presents a new way to reconstruct the extent of medieval archaeological sites by using approaches from the field of geoinformatics. Hence, we propose a combined use of non-invasive methodologies which are used for the first time to study a medieval village in Romania. The focus here will be on ground-based and satellite remote-sensing techniques. The method relies on computing vegetation indices (proxies), which have been utilized for archaeological site detection in order to detect the layout of a deserted medieval town located in southwestern Romania. The data were produced by a group of small satellites (3U CubeSats) dispatched by Planet Labs which delivered high-resolution images of the Earth's surface. The globe is encompassed by more than 150 satellites (dimensions: 10 x 10 x 30 cm) which catch different images for the same area at moderately short intervals at a spatial resolution of 3–4 m. The four-band Planet Scope satellite images were employed to calculate a number of vegetation indices such as NDVI (Normalized Difference Vegetation Index), DVI (Difference Vegetation Index), SR (Simple Vegetation Ratio) and others. For better precision, structure from motion (SfM) techniques were applied to generate a high-resolution orthomosaic and a digital surface model in which the boundaries of the medieval village of “Șanțul Turcilor” in Mașloc, Romania, can be plainly observed. Additionally, this study contrasts the outcomes with a geophysical survey that was attempted inside the central part of the medieval settlement. The technical results of this study also provide strong evidence from an historical point of view: the first documented case of village systematization during the medieval period within Eastern Europe (particularly Romania) found through geoscientific methods.