YMS Helps to Detect Archaeological Sites

3rd June 2016 -

Smolenice-Molpír belong to the most important archaeological sites of the Early Iron Age (Hallstatt period, 8th-6th century before Christ) in Central Europe. There are remains of an economically and religiously developed center that was located at the crossroads of the then trade routes and was inhabited by a privileged  group of population. New hillock survey, which was recently implemented by the civic association Naše Smolenice in cooperation with YMS, revealed several other potential archaeological structures. Among the most interesting is a regular circularly shaped object resembling a burial mound.

These hidden historical structures were successfully uncovered thanks to a modern method - airborne laser scanning. Experts chose the technology intentionally to penetrate the terrain that is only accessible with great difficulty as it is covered by dense vegetation. “Forest and shrubby undergrowth prevent us from accessing and uncovering potential archaeological objects. However, it also protects them against erosion and other adverse factors. Therefore, we used the airborne laser scanning in the exploration for the first time. We captured the surface with the help of aircraft and so we penetrated under the trees and shrubs. The result, several revealed archaeological structures, affirmed us that we chose the technology properly, “says civic association Naše Smolenice Chairman, František Birošík.

A team of specialists led by YMS created a detailed digital terrain model (DTM) from laser scanning data. “They told us where to look, but not exactly for what. We displayed the DMT using the shaded relief method to identify potential archaeological objects. We illuminated the model from different cardinal points to reveal potential landscaping structures. For example we determined more accurately the course of the inner fortification walls at a courtyard hill fort,” describes the flow and results of the process YMS business analyst and LiDAR specialist, Peter Bobáľ.

Archaeologists have explored the location Smolenice-Molpír since the 19th century, but they did not give a historical significance to some structures discovered during field surveys. “Contactless Earth's surface sensing helped us to define more accurate features of the localized object. We discovered a regular ring with dented place in the middle. It is probably a burial mound. Of course, our estimate has to be confirmed by archaeologists by a direct survey,” says about the interesting discovery Peter Bobáľ.

Preservation and protection of archaeological sites is always the national, public interest. Pilot project called “Naše Smolenice” showed that the airborne laser scanning method in combination with appropriate geoinformation technologies provides an excellent basis to identify archaeological sites. “We believe that we attracted the attention of professional and scientific organizations and in the future we will participate in similar projects that help to discover and protect our history and cultural heritage,” concludes YMS Director for Research and Innovation Projects, Miroslav Holubec.

Illustration photo: Naše Smolenice and YMS.