Working from home, archaeologists find prehistoric, Roman and medieval sites

Hyperaxion May 16, 2020

Working remotely because of the pandemic, the team identified the remains of two Roman roads, 20 tombs and prehistoric sites, in addition to hundreds of medieval farms.

Hundreds of prehistoric, Roman, and medieval sites were discovered by archaeologists who are working from home during the Covid-19 pandemic. The team of volunteers, led by Dr Chris Smart, from the University of Exeter in the UK, is analyzing images derived from a technology known as LiDAR.

Working from home, archaeologists find dozens of prehistoric, Roman and medieval sites
(Credit: University of Exeter).

According to the researchers, LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) is a laser technique used during aerial research to produce highly detailed topographic maps. Modern vegetation and buildings can be removed by the system, allowing archaeologists to observe the shape of the earth’s surface – and find the remains of archaeological constructions, for example.

Looking at data previously collected in southwest England, the team found parts of two Roman roads, some 30 prehistoric sites or Roman settlements (they are not sure yet), 20 prehistoric tombs and the remains of hundreds of medieval farms.

(Credit: University of Exeter).

“I knew there would be enthusiasm within our volunteer group to continue working during lockdown – one even suggested temporarily rebranding our project ‘Lockdown Landscapes’,” said Dr Smart, in a statement. “I don’t think they realised how many new discoveries they would make.”

When the worst of the pandemic is over, the team plans to conduct geophysical surveys in several recently identified locations. “It’s hard for us not to be able to carry out the work we had planned this summer,” said Dr Smart. “But hopefully this is only a temporary blip and we will be back out in the countryside with volunteers as soon as it is safe to do so.”


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