APPLYING SATELLITE DATA SOURCES IN THE DOCUMENTATION AND LANDSCAPE MODELLING FOR GRAECO-ROMAN/BYZANTINE FORTIFIED SITES IN THE TŪR ABDIN AREA, EASTERN TURKEY
Keywords: Remote sensing, satellite images, GeoEye-1, Roman limes studies, Byzantine studies, archaeological survey, GIS
Abstract. In 2015-2016 the Finnish-Swedish Archaeological Project in Mesopotamia (FSAPM) initiated a pilot study of an unexplored area in the Tūr Abdin region in Northern Mesopotamia (present-day Mardin Province in southeastern Turkey). FSAPM is reliant on satellite image data sources for prospecting, identifying, recording, and mapping largely unknown archaeological sites as well as studying their landscapes in the region. The purpose is to record and document sites in this endangered area for saving its cultural heritage. The sites in question consist of fortified architectural remains in an ancient border zone between the Graeco-Roman/Byzantine world and Parthia/Persia. The location of the archaeological sites in the terrain and the visible archaeological remains, as well as their dimensions and sizes were determined from the ortorectified satellite images, which also provided coordinates. In addition, field documentation was carried out in situ with photographs and notes. The applicability of various satellite data sources for the archaeological documentation of the project was evaluated. Satellite photographs from three 1968 CORONA missions, i.e. the declassified US government satellite photograph archives were acquired. Furthermore, satellite images included a recent GeoEye-1 Satellite Sensor Image from 2010 with a resolution of 0.5 m. Its applicability for prospecting archaeological sites, studying the terrain and producing landscape models in 3D was confirmed. The GeoEye-1 revealed the ruins of a fortified town and a fortress for their documentation and study. Landscape models for the area of these sites were constructed fusing GeoEye-1 with EU-DEM (European Digital Elevation Model data using SRTM and ASTER GDEM data) in order to understand their locations in the terrain.