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Archaeological aerial thermography: a case study at the Chaco-era Blue J community, New Mexico
Journal of Archaeological Science (2014)
  • John Kantner
  • Jesse Casana
  • Adam Wiewel
  • Jackson Cothren
Despite a long history of studies that demonstrate the potential of aerial thermography to reveal surface and subsurface cultural features, technological and cost barriers have prevented the widespread application of thermal imaging in archaeology. This paper presents a method for collection of high-resolution thermal imagery using an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), as well as a means to efficiently process and orthorectify imagery using photogrammetric software. To test the method, aerial surveys were conducted at the Chaco-period Blue J community in northwestern New Mexico. Results enable the size and organization of most habitation sites to be readily mapped, and also reveal previously undocumented architectural features. Our easily replicable methodology produces data that rivals traditional archaeological geophysics in terms of feature visibility, but which can be collected very rapidly, over large areas, with minimal cost and processing requirements.
  • Thermal imaging,
  • LWIR,
  • UAV,
  • Photogrammetry,
  • Archaeo-geophysics,
  • Ancestral Puebloans
Publication Date
May, 2014
Citation Information
John Kantner, Jesse Casana, Adam Wiewel and Jackson Cothren. "Archaeological aerial thermography: a case study at the Chaco-era Blue J community, New Mexico" Journal of Archaeological Science Vol. 45 (2014) p. 207 - 219 ISSN: 0305-4403
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