Drones in Archaeology

Neil Smith, Luca Passone, Said Al-Said, Mohamed Al-Farhan, Thomas E. Levy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


In late 2013, a joint archaeological and computer vision project was initiated to digitally capture the archaeological remains in the al-Ula valley, Saudi Arabia. The goal of our team of archeologists and computer scientists is to integrate 3D scanning technologies to produce 3D reconstructions of archaeological sites. Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) serve as the vehicle which makes this scanning possible. UAVs allow the acquisition of 3D data as easily from the air as from the ground. This project focuses on the recent excavations carried out in ancient Dedan by King Saud University and the country's conservation of the Lihyanite "lion tombs" carved into the ancient city's cliff faces. Over the next several years this site will be used as a test bed to validate the potential of this emerging technology for rapid cultural heritage documentation. We additionally scanned several areas in Mada'in Saleh, an ancient Nabatean city filled with monumental carved sandstone tomb facades, rivaled only by the capital of the Nabatean empire: Petra.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)176-181
Number of pages6
JournalNear Eastern Archaeology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 26 2014

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KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2020-10-01


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