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13 August 2012
Ancient sites studied from the air in Denmark

Since 2009 archaeologists have been using small aircraft to map nine areas in Denmark that are of particular interest to archaeologists and historians. The project is called 'The past as viewed from the sky - air archaeology in Denmark' and will initially run until 2013. "The objective of this project is to gain a clearer view of the ancient monuments in Denmark. I hope this will spark a greater interest in the past," says archaeologist and project manager Lis Helles Olesen, who is also a curator at Holstebro Museum.
     There are great differences in the kinds of soil layer that the archaeologists study from above. And that's actually part of the reason why just these nine areas were selected: they represent all types of soil layer. "Sandy soil is the most suitable for studying archaeology from above," says Olesen. "This is because growth differences in the soil layers are greater in sand than in other soil types, and that makes it easier to spot differences in the crops." There may also be great differences in the appearance of the fields from year to year. During a very dry summer, archaeologists can make plenty of good, previously undiscovered finds by circling around the fields.
     Of particular interest to the aerial archaeologists are remnant houses - houses that people once lived in. These houses enable archaeologists to determine with great precision which time period the find dates back to. "The houses change appearance throughout antiquity, and archaeologists now have a good overview of how the houses have looked in various periods of history," Lis Helles Olesen says.
     So far, the project has revealed more than 2,500 sites that may be of archaeological interest, and which could result in further funding for the project. Olesen sincerely hopes the project can continue past its scheduled expiration in 2013.

Edited from ScienceNordic (25 July 2012)

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