GIS and Remote Sensing for Archaeology: Burgundy, France

Recent Project Activities

Analysis of data from the Cassini maps, 1944 aerial photos, and field data

We have been working to correlate the information on various different datasets. For example, Rutgers Graduate student Bob Wiencek worked with me for two years to compare areas with significant potential on the Cassini maps, 1944 aerial photos, and modern maps. Interesting features located in each of these were compared with other data and then were field checked on two occasions using copies of all datasets and a GPS unit. Some of the results of this work are shown below.


1944 aerial photo at left showing visible road segment (arrow). 1759 map at center showing a road segment in the same location. Field photo showing road segment as discovered in the field. The old road segment now runs through woods (shown here in the February snow).

Old Roman Road Segment


A segment of road on the Cassini map was marked "Ancien Chemin des Romans"- or Ancient Roman Road. This segment was not marked on any current maps of Roman roads, and was unknown to us, so we investigated it by reviewing the 1944 aerials. We did see some faint linear patterns (shown by the arrows just above the strip of tape marking the faint line). During field work we visited the area and found a very old, sunken road track (shown at left) that appears to be a segment of the lost Roman road. This work was included in the "Discovery Channel" Documentary on this work.


Old mill pond, dam, and mill shown on the Cassini map at left. At right, ground photo of breached dam, with remains of millsite out of view at left. This dam was very eroded and little more than a gentle hill.


Two millponds at left with grain mills, shown on the same drainage on the Cassini map. The lower one is still existing while the upper one is gone. The photo at right shows the mill pond as it is today. Very few mill ponds remain in the area today.

Crop Circles on aerial photos

Several crop circles were discovered while interpreting the 1944 aerial photographs. These were marked on site forms and then investigated in the field.

Cassini data overlaid on SPOT Image

The following image show various different data from the Cassini maps, including hydrology, old roads, and vegetation cover, overlaid on the SPOT satellite vegetation data.

Cassini era roads in black.


Cassini era forest cover outlines. You can see the amount and location of reduction in forest cover in the region using this technique. The large forest area at center (darker shade) has clearly been reduced by about half, as have several smaller forest patches. The green outline shows the 1759 extent of one forest patch, with the small remainder in the center as seen on the current SPOT satellite image.





Cassini era hydrology (streams, millponds, and dams) overlaid on SPOT image. You can see the large number of milldams and mills (indicated by the red arrows) that are no longer existing in the area.



The following photograph shows negative crop marks discovered by Dr. Scott Madry and Rutgers Anthropology graduate student Bob Wiencek while conducting fieldwork in the Arroux River Valley, France during February of 1996. The discolored yellow areas reveal evidence of a buried (possibly Roman or later) structure.

Site discovery - ground photo (February, 1996)

We returned to the project area the following May and completed an aerial survey of the Arroux River Valley. The objectives of this survey included photographing the site we had located in February along with the search for new sites. A Trimble GPS receiver was used to record site location coordinates on the ground and in the air. The following photographs were taken in May of 1996. GPS is an excellent tool for field use for mapping, navigation, and recording site location data for the GIS.

Aerial photo of site discovered in February

New site located near Roman road segment

Aerial site discovery showing positive crop marks

Airplane used for aerial photography

Bob Wiencek Taking GPS readings in the field

Visit the News page of the larger French project website for more project news and information.

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