Optical and Thermal UAS research at the Etruscan site of Acquarossa, Italy

Years: 2018-2019

Supervision: Jitte Waagen

Execution and research: Jitte Waagen, Mikko Kriek

Project description: The drone remote sensing operations were part of an ongoing ACASA investigation directed by P. Lulof. Acquarossa is the name of an archaeological site consisting of the remains of an Etruscan settlement on the tuff plateau Colle San Francesco, in the province of Lazio and ca. six kilometers north of Viterbo, Italy. Previous excavations of the Swedish Institute in Rome (1966–1978) uncovered substantial urban remains throughout the area. They revealed various zones with Etruscan houses and public buildings which were inhabited from the late eighth century BC until shortly after the middle of the sixth century BC, when it was abandoned. With remains of foundations, walls, decorated roofs, and thousands of household utensils, it is one of the scarce examples of an intact Etruscan townscape.

Excavations in the outermost northeast tip of the plateau brought to light remains of Archaic habitation, with a structure interpreted as a domestic building dating from the last half of the seventh to the sixth century BC. The drone survey was oriented here, because of the attested remains of structures at a probably shallow depth. The drone operations were accompanied by a GPR survey, to generate a complementary dataset for the analysis of the efficacy of the remote sensing efforts.

Based on the combined data projections of both the thermal recordings and the GPR measurements, it could be shown that both techniques traced similar features, for example one that can be found as an anomaly northeast of the research area, which shows as an angular structure on the GPR data and has a clear thermal signature as well.


Waagen, J.; Sánchez, J.G.; van der Heiden, M.; Kuiters, A.; Lulof, P. In the Heat of the Night: Comparative Assessment of Drone Thermography at the Archaeological Sites of Acquarossa, Italy, and Siegerswoude, The Netherlands. Drones 2022, 6, 165. https://doi.org/10.3390/drones6070165