Currently in archaeological studies digital elevation models are mainly used especially in terms of shaded reliefs for the prospection of archaeological sites. Hesse (2010) provides a supporting software tool for the determination of local relief models during the prospection using LiDAR scans. Furthermore the search for relicts from WW2 is also in the focus of his research. In James et al. (2006) the determined contour lines were used to reconstruct locations of archaeological artefacts such as buildings. This study is much more and presents an innovative workflow of determining historical high resolution terrain surfaces using recent high resolution terrain models and sedimentological expert knowledge. Based on archaeological field studies (Franconian Saale near Bad Neustadt in Germany) the sedimentological analyses shows that archaeological interesting horizon and geomorphological expert knowledge in combination with particle size analyses (Koehn, DIN ISO 11277) are useful components for reconstructing surfaces of the early Middle Ages. Furthermore the paper traces how it is possible to use additional information (extracted from a recent digital terrain model) to support the process of determination historical surfaces. Conceptual this research is based on methodology of geomorphometry and geo-statistics. The basic idea is that the working procedure is based on the different input data. One aims at tracking the quantitative data and the other aims at processing the qualitative data. Thus, the first quantitative data were available for further processing, which were later processed with the qualitative data to convert them to historical heights. In the final stage of the workflow all gathered information are stored in a large data matrix for spatial interpolation using the geostatistical method of Kriging. Besides the historical surface, the algorithm also provides a first estimation of accuracy of the modelling. The presented workflow is characterized by a high flexibility and the opportunity to include new available data in the process at any time.
Terrain surfaces conserve human activities in terms of textures and structures. With reference to archaeological questions, the geological archive is investigated by means of models regarding anthropogenic traces. In doing so, the high-resolution digital terrain model is of inestimable value for the decoding of the archive. The evaluation of these terrain models and the reconstruction of historical surfaces is still a challenging issue. Due to the data collection by means of LiDAR systems (light detection and ranging) and despite their subsequent pre-processing and filtering, recently anthropogenic artefacts are still present in the digital terrain model.
Analysis have shown that elements, such as contour lines and channels, can well be extracted from a high-resolution digital terrain model. This way, channels in settlement areas show a clear anthropogenic character. This fact can also be observed for contour lines. Some contour lines representing a possibly natural ground surface and avoid anthropogenic artefacts. Comparable to channels, noticeable patterns of contour lines become visible in areas with anthropogenic artefacts. The presented workflow uses functionalities of ArcGIS and the programming language R.1 The method starts with the extraction of contour lines from the digital terrain model. Through macroscopic analyses based on geomorphological expert knowledge, contour lines are selected representing the natural geomorphological character of the surface. In a first step, points are determined along each contour line in regular intervals. This points and the corresponding height information which is taken from an original digital terrain model is saved as a point cloud. Using the programme library gstat, a variographic analysis and the use of a Kriging-procedure based on this follow.2-4
The result is a digital terrain model filtered considering geomorphological expert knowledge showing no human degradation in terms of artefacts, preserving the landscape-genetic character and can be called a prehistoric terrain model.