Detection of buried ancient walls using airborne thermal video radiometry

E. Ben-Dor*, M. Kochavi, L. Vinizki, M. Shionim, J. Portugali

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


This study examined the feasibility of using a very sensitive thermal video radiometer to derive information about subsoil objects from the air. In this study we mounted a thermal sensor onboard a helicopter and acquired digital data from an altitude of 1333 m over an archaeological site on the Golan Heights, Israel. The site, namely, Leviah Enclosure, is an Early Bronze Age settlement that is covered by a thin layer of soil. The buried structures, made from basalt, could not be observed from the ground or in aerial photos. However, in the thermal images, the buried basalt structures were significantly enhanced because they have different thermal characteristics than the ground's surface. Based on the thermal images, it was possible to generate a map to use for future excavation activity. Referring to the thermal maps, a selected area was excavated, and verification on the ground, using traditional archaeological methods revealed a positive agreement between the thermal-based map and the actual location of the buried structures. The research highlights the fact that this technology can contribute additional and useful information to the field of archaeology. Based on these results, further study is planned in order to examine the capability of the sensor under different conditions and to further excavate the entire Leviah Enclosure.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3689-3702
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal of Remote Sensing
Issue number18
StatePublished - 15 Dec 2001


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