University of Oulu

Seitsonen, O.; Ikäheimo, J. Detecting Archaeological Features with Airborne Laser Scanning in the Alpine Tundra of Sápmi, Northern Finland. Remote Sens. 2021, 13, 1599.

Detecting archaeological features with airborne laser scanning in the alpine tundra of Sápmi, Northern Finland

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Author: Seitsonen, Oula1; Ikäheimo, Janne2
Organizations: 1Cultural Heritage Studies, University of Helsinki, 00014 Helsinki, Finland
2Department of Archaeology, University of Oulu, 90570 Oulu, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 6.2 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute, 2021
Publish Date: 2021-04-22


Open access airborne laser scanning (ALS) data have been available in Finland for over a decade and have been actively applied by the Finnish archaeologists in that time. The low resolution of this laser scanning 2008–2019 dataset (0.5 points/m²), however, has hindered its usability for archaeological prospection. In the summer of 2020, the situation changed markedly, when the Finnish National Land Survey started a new countrywide ALS survey with a higher resolution of 5 points/m². In this paper we present the first results of applying this newly available ALS material for archaeological studies. Finnish LIDARK consortium has initiated the development of semi-automated approaches for visualizing, detecting, and analyzing archaeological features with this new dataset. Our first case studies are situated in the Alpine tundra environment of Sápmi in northern Finland, and the assessed archaeological features range from prehistoric sites to indigenous Sámi reindeer herding features and Second Word War-era German military structures. Already the initial analyses of the new ALS-5p data show their huge potential for locating, mapping, and assessing archaeological material. These results also suggest an imminent burst in the number of known archaeological sites, especially in the poorly accessible and little studied northern wilderness areas, when more data become available.

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Series: Remote sensing
ISSN: 2072-4292
ISSN-E: 2072-4292
ISSN-L: 2072-4292
Volume: 13
Issue: 8
Article number: 1599
DOI: 10.3390/rs13081599
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 615 History and archaeology
Funding: This research was funded by European Research Council grant number 2017 756431, Finnish Academy grant number 308322, and Finnish Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry decision number VN/22710/2020-MMM-3.
EU Grant Number: (756431) DOMESTICATION - Domestication in Action - Tracing Archaeological Markers of Human-Animal Interaction
Academy of Finland Grant Number: 308322
Detailed Information: 308322 (Academy of Finland Funding decision)
Dataset Reference: The used ALS-5p data are not open-access but the use-rights can be applied from the NLS for the price of 114,10 euros/production area [18]. Other used datasets are available open access from the Finnish Heritage Agency and the Finnish National Land Survey [6,19,20].
Copyright information: © 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (