CFP: International aerial archaeology conference

A call for papers from Stefano Campana:

International aerial archaeology conference
AARG 2009 Siena
Certosa di Pontignano, 25 – 27 September 2009

Organised by the University of Siena, Italy, and the Aerial Archaeology Research Group

** Proposals for sessions, papers and posters are invited**

The following sessions have been proposed for the presentations and discussions on 25 and 26 September. Offers, posters and additional session titles of papers are welcome:

Aerial Archaeology in Italy and the central Mediterranean

New Projects

Postgraduate Research

Interpretation, Interpretation, Interpretation… in the 21st century

The Death of Cropmarks?

Engaging with Aerial Photography

Conflict and Military Archaeology

Beyond-Visible Archaeological Reconnaissance

Note: session titles are provisional and all papers and session proposals are welcome.

Oral papers should usually be 20 minutes duration. Equal value is given to poster presentations.

Closing date for abstracts is 31st May 2009.

Conference Organising Committee:
Professor Dr hab. Wlodek R czkowski (AARG, University of Pozna )
Dr Stefano Campana (AARG, University of Siena), Dave Cowley (AARG, RCAHMS)
Robin Standring (AARG, Cambridge), Lidka uk (AARG, University of Pozna )

Address for all conference correspondence:
Dave Cowley, RCAHMS, 16 Bernard Terrace, Edinburgh, EH8 9NX, Scotland



These are to support bona fide students and young researchers who are interested in aerial archaeology and wish to attend the conference. Applications to Dave Cowley at the above address, by letter or email. There is no formal application form but please provide the following information:

Your interests in archaeology and aerial archaeology; place of study; the name and contact details of a supervisor or employer who can provide a reference; an estimate of travel costs to attend.

Closing date for applications is 31st May 2009.

Aerial Archaeology Research Group website:

Session abstracts

Provisional session abstracts are listed below. Suggestions for additional sessions should be sent to Dave Cowley with a short abstract, and if known a list of participants. Unless otherwise stated, all sessions will be organized centrally.

Aerial Archaeology in Italy and the central Mediterranean

Session Organisers: Prof. Giuseppe Ceraudo (Salento University), Dr Stefano Campana (Siena University) – contact:

As the AARG annual conference has moved around Europe, sessions designed to showcase work in the host country or region have become an important component of the conference. Italy has a long and active history of aerial archaeological research and this session will highlight ongoing projects in Italy and neighbouring areas of the Mediterranean.

New Projects

Session Organiser: Conference committee – contact:

This session is designed to allow for the presentation of work-in-progress, and also for projects at an early stage, where research design, methodology etc. can be presented for peer review and comment.

Postgraduate Research

Session Organiser: Conference committee – contact:

AARG has a long tradition of encouraging postgraduates and young researchers to present their research in a relaxed environment, and giving them exposure to experts in their fields and providing an opportunity for necessarily incomplete research to be presented.

Interpretation, Interpretation, Interpretation… in the 21st century

Session Organiser: Conference committee – contact:

The interpretation of archaeological features recorded on aerial photographs, satellite imagery and hyper/multi-spectral data is recognised amongst ‘traditional’ aerial archaeologists as a subjective process, depending on the skill of the interpreter, their experience and training. However, many approaches under development are emphasising the auto-extraction of information from imagery, with varying degrees of input from a skilled interpreter. Equally, many in the ‘remote sensing’ community
have developed an interest in such applications for archaeology with little or no archaeological background. This session will explore the roles and inter-connections of auto-extraction approaches, experience, the role of training and so on, in addressing the central issue of how the interpretation of source data can be addressed in a coherent and structured way, that extends beyond just looking, to a robust, critical process that challenges ‘how interpretations are made’ and in which stage of research
interpretations are made.

The Death of Cropmarks?

Session Organiser: Dr Kenny Brophy (Glasgow University) – contact:

Cropmarks are in crisis! These magical, temporary variations in crop growth have always had a loose grip on reality, and now they may be fading away altogether. They are starting to seem old-fashioned. Technology seems to be superseding them, with new toys and techniques, both aerial and satellite, offering exciting ways of seeing buried and denuded traces with or without crops. Climate change in parts of Europe – global warming – seems to be accompanied by global raining, making finding cropmarks more difficult. Ongoing development and invasive deep-ploughing is eroding the buried features that make cropmarks. Traditional observer-directed reconnaissance for finding and recording cropmarks is under threat in places, both financially and intellectually. Even the occasional excavation is, in essence, destroying the archaeology beneath our feet.

This session will send out a SOS for cropmarks. Can they find salvation in the form of the vast archives of air photos held across Europe? These photos contain millions of cropmarks, the majority of which have never been analysed and placed on record by archaeologists. Could research, synthesis, mapping, interpretation and archaeological engagement offer a life-support system? Perhaps government agencies and planning authorities will be more robust in halting the ‘ripping up the past’? Will climatic change offer new opportunities, bringing drier weather to cropmark-poor areas? Is the silver lining on the cloud of the world’s collapsing financial markets that development slows down and farmers buy smaller tractors? Contributors to the session should come prepared either to help the
cropmarks, or write their obituary.

Engaging with Aerial Photography

Session Organiser: Sarah Massey (Norfolk, UK) – contact:

This session will explore the ways in which aerial photography and aerial archaeology can be interpreted, promoted and disseminated in imaginative ways to allow archaeologists and non-archaeologists a positive engagement with the subject, both with the processes involved and the resultant interpretative frameworks. How can we engage non-aerial archaeologists? For example, in Britain how can we build on the current trend for TV programmes and exhibitions showing the earth from the aerial perspective? Are there similar trends in other parts of Europe? How could this current, but potentially superficial and transient, interest in aerial photography be taken forward to create a deeper understanding of (aerial) archaeology? Aerial images are widely available, but how do we encourage an aerial archaeological perspective in public and professional alike? Papers illustrating imaginative uses of aerial photographic data, projects and/or exhibitions, the development of narratives within aerial photography, or highlighting the social history of aerial photography, and links with the Arts are welcome.

Beyond-Visible Archaeological Reconnaissance

Session Organiser: Geert Verhoeven (Ghent University) – contact

Most archaeological aerial reconnaissance amounts to little more than flying around in a small aeroplane using cameras to take still images in the visible domain. Although satellite and multispectral airborne data, which can offer spectral information beyond the visible, have been used in many archaeological surveys, most users lack the financial and staff resources to acquire and process such data. However, the lack of comparable invisible and visible archaeological reconnaissance information over large areas makes it difficult to assess the added-value of such beyond-visible approaches in
archaeological research. This session looks for contributions examining conventional aerial images and remotely captured archaeological imagery acquired by passive methods in the non-visible bands of the electromagnetic spectrum (e.g. UltraViolet, Near-InfraRed, Thermal InfraRed). Papers are invited exploring the physical and biological principles that underlie such remote sensed data, the tools required, and the approaches needed for these types of survey.

Speakers should be thought provoking, encouraging engagement on the alternative ways of aerial data acquisition by questioning the current approaches of archaeological aerial imaging (which have – to a very large extent – not changed since aerial archaeology was born more than a century ago).

Conflict and Military Archaeology
Session Organiser: Conference committee – contact:

Papers are invited exploring aspects of military archaeology with reference to aerial photographic and other remote sensing techniques.

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4 Responses to CFP: International aerial archaeology conference

  1. Brent King says:

    What does infrared play in archaeology?

  2. John Wells says:

    The simple answer to Brent is that is should play a much larger part than it does at present.

  3. John Wells says:

    I see Brent is interested in thermal imaging. Thermal imaging is different to our near infra-red work but it is of use at locating sub-surface features that have different thermal properties to the surrounding ground, especially sfter changes in the air temperature.
    The technique has also been used for military purposes in the desert.

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