Surveys in Geophysics

, Volume 39, Issue 6, pp 1323–1346 | Cite as

Space-Based Identification of Archaeological Illegal Excavations and a New Automatic Method for Looting Feature Extraction in Desert Areas

  • Rosa Lasaponara
  • Nicola MasiniEmail author


The identification and quantification of disturbance of archaeological sites has been generally approached by visual inspection of optical aerial or satellite pictures. In this paper, we briefly summarize the state of the art of the traditionally satellite-based approaches for looting identification and propose a new automatic method for archaeological looting feature extraction approach (ALFEA). It is based on three steps: the enhancement using spatial autocorrelation, unsupervised classification, and segmentation. ALFEA has been applied to Google Earth images of two test areas, selected in desert environs in Syria (Dura Europos), and in Peru (Cahuachi-Nasca). The reliability of ALFEA was assessed through field surveys in Peru and visual inspection for the Syrian case study. Results from the evaluation procedure showed satisfactory performance from both of the two analysed test cases with a rate of success higher than 90%.


Satellite remote sensing Review Archaeological looting Automatic feature extraction Peru Syria 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.National Research Council, CNR-IMAA (Institute of Institute of Methodologies for Environmental Analysis)Tito ScaloItaly
  2. 2.National Research Council, CNR-IBAM (Institute of Archaeological and Monumental Heritage)Tito ScaloItaly

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