Non-invasive landscape Archaeology of the Great War

The complex interaction between human activities with the surrounding physical environment shaped the landscape through centuries and forms the fundamental approach in the domain of landscape archaeology. This interaction is in particular recognizable in a war period, when landscape and the war activities developed reciprocally during time and over space. Although the historical and military characteristics of past wars and their related activities have been studied, they are rarely the subject of a landscape archaeological research. Consequently the central research question runs as follows: how can we characterise the buried heritage of a former war zone within the present landscape using a non-invasive methodology? Therefore three research disciplines, each with a specific and complimentary expertise, work along three major research lines: (1) Remote sensing archaeology, (2) Geophysical soil sensing and (3) historic and visual landscape analysis. To answer the research question a combination of three spatial information technologies, consisting out of the processing of more than 17 000 aerial photographs, geophysical soil sensing techniques and the digital reconstructions of the landscape before, during and after WWI within a 1200 kmĀ² study area in Belgium that belongs to the Western Front of the Great War. The results of the research activities will be integrated in an interactive cartographic assessment model compiled in a GIS database. It will be possible to consult the digital data layers interactively within a dynamic scale. This digital atlas can be used as a policy supportive document (heritage management and conservation, spatial planning), for raising public awareness (heritage tourism and education) and for the formulation of future aspirations of different users of the landscape.

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