Drones, LiDAR on Dana Island

Drones and LiDAR technologies helped Purdue researchers to map archeological sites on Dana Island, a small island located off the southern coast of Turkey in the Mediterranean Sea.

On a small Mediterranean island off the southern coast of Turkey, a consortium of Purdue researchers are conducting archeological research with the help of advanced technologies that Indiana Jones could only dream of.

According to a University press release, researchers from the College of Liberal Arts and the Lyles School of Civil Engineering have begun to map Dana Island, using drones and light detection and ranging technologies — LiDAR for short — to map areas of the island that show traces of ancient human inhabitation, as a means of better understanding the island's history. 

Artifacts collected from the islands show evidence of ancient shipbuilding and quarry excavation. In reference to the decision to use drones and LiDAR technology in this research initiative, Ayman Habib, a professor of civil engineering, said in the press release that "We proved the high potential for our technology to be used for data collection for archaeological documentation. We have opened the door to new and different methods and research problems in accurate mapping of real-world objects and locations."

However, the work wasn't without its difficulty. In reference to the rough terrain and hazards of the location, Habib explained that "This was our most challenging work yet involving our drone and mapping systems. We faced major challenges in getting the equipment to the island and then working around the dense vegetation and some snakes."

According to the rpess release, this expedition is a program of the College of Liberal Arts' ROSETTA initiative, a program that spearheads the application of remote sensing technologies in archaeo-anthropology research initiatives.

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