Prospection and monitoring of the archaeological heritage of Nasca, Peru, with ENVISAT ASAR

Tapete, Deodato; Cigna, Francesca; Masini, Nicola; Lasaponara, Rosa. 2013 Prospection and monitoring of the archaeological heritage of Nasca, Peru, with ENVISAT ASAR. Archaeological Prospection, 20 (2). 133-147.

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The processing method based on synthetic aperture radar (SAR) amplitude information presented by Cigna et al. (2013, this issue) was used to extract the backscattering coefficient (σ0) from ENVISAT advanced SAR (ASAR) scenes to investigate the archaeological heritage of the Nasca region, southern Peru. Average backscattering and σ0 time series in 2003–2007 were obtained for some of the most famous groups of the Nazca Lines, as well as for the adobe structures of the Ceremonial Centre of Cahuachi, and allowed the recognition of anthropogenic features on arid and bare soil. Despite the expected constraints due to the medium spatial resolution of the ASAR scenes (~30 m), some features related to the Nasca ancient aqueduct systems (puquios) were detected, and water level changes were inferred from amplitude change detection maps and σ0 time series. The SAR-based prospection results were also compared with a vegetation index derived from Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) data for 2003, 2004 and 2007. The changes observed over Cahuachi and the neighbouring archaeological mounds are then discussed in light of the recent conservation history of the site and the contemporary archaeological excavations. The research opens interesting perspectives for routine use of SAR data for purposes of archaeological prospection and condition monitoring in (semi-)arid and desert regions.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
ISSN: 10752196
Date made live: 02 Jul 2013 12:27 +0 (UTC)

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