Application of Viewshed Analysis and Case Studies: Technique Effective in Modeling Spatial Patterns (Especially for GATE-Geospatial 2022)

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Viewshed analysis has been extensively used in spatial modeling or landscape reconstruction of the ancient environmental settings and has been established as one of the most useful modules in the archaeological applications of Geographical Information Systems. The application of the technique has been proven especially effective in modeling spatial patterns within an uneven terrain.

Viewshed analysis was applied in the exploration of the defense system of the Mantineian plain in central Peloponnese, the study of the communication network among the historical towers of the island of Amorgos and the modeling of the location of the Minoan peak sanctuaries of the Lasithi district in NE Crete.

In the first case, the purpose of the analysis was to determine the visibility coverage of the plain surrounding the ancient city of Mantineia from watchtowers situated in the nearby hills and mountains and compare it with the corresponding visibility coverage resulting from each one of the gates of the city walls. The data were correlated to the results of previous surface surveys that had located ancient roads and paths. In this way, a thematic map of the potential defensive region has been created, suggesting either possible gaps or candidate archaeological sites that may have been used to complete the defense system of the region.

The above case studies employed data of different sources and accuracies for the construction of the DEM and the mapping of the ancient monuments, spanning from sub-cm accuracy GPS measurements to digitization of large-scale topographic or historical maps. The DEM was constructed based either on digitization of topographic maps, or stereoscopic pairs of SPOT satellite images.

An additional height of 5 - 10m above the current surface elevation was allowed for each site to account for the original height of the towers. The horizontal and vertical parameters of the swept angle and visibility distance varied according to the direction of interest and the general settings of each region.

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