Beginning in 2014, a UAV with a mounted camera was used to document the archaeological landscapes recorded in the Eastern Ḫabur Archaeological Survey (EHAS) of Dohuk Province, Iraqi Kurdistan, a project of the Institute for Ancient Near Eastern Studies (IANES) at the University of Tübingen, Directed by Professor Peter Pfälzner. While low-altitude photography and UAVs are not particularly new to archaeology, this is among the first reported landscape-level application of low-altitude photography from UAVs in a large archaeological survey in this region. Since 2014, project members surveyed over 70 archaeological sites in the EHAS region, many of which are stratified settlements with significant topographic variation (tells) that range in size from one to 30 hectares in area. The products of this survey comprise an important resource for the evaluation of site conditions and taphonomy, archaeological analysis and the publication of results.
Survey was carried out using a DJI Phantom 2 Vision+ with associated camera. A hand-held GPS was used to measure the location of ground control points to guide photogrammetric image matching and image georeferencing in a GIS. Photogrammetry and secondary data generation was carried out in AgiSoft Photoscan Pro. Land use – land cover maps and contour lines were produced in a GIS and integrated with data from the surface survey of each site.
The EHAS is part of the Assyrian Landscapes Project: a partnership of four adjacent archaeological surveys covering significant portion of Iraqi Kurdistan. Standardization of workflow, data output formats, and land cover classification procedures will facilitate data archiving, reporting, and hopefully encourage data sharing with partner projects in Iraq and similar efforts worldwide.
Explore some of the archaeological landscapes here: