Large-scale drone remote sensing at Rijnenburg, Utrecht

Year: 2023-2024

Supervision: Jitte Waagen

Execution and research: Jitte Waagen, Mikko Kriek, Alicia Walsh, Mason Scholte

Project description: 

The drone remote sensing operations were commissioned by Erik Graafstal, municipal archaeologist of Utrecht. Rijnenburg is a development location of the municipality that in time will develop into a new urban district. People were already living on these higher river levees around the beginning of the common era. They lived in small hamlets of sometimes only two or three farms. The remains are presumably well preserved in the soil of Rijnenburg.

The aim of the overarching project is to save the most important archaeological sites as much as possible. In large developments such as Rijnenburg, archeology often only comes into focus once the master plans have been drawn, development positions have been negotiated and site preparation is about to start. Plan adjustment is then usually no longer an issue. In Rijnenburg, an innovative approach was chosen by bringing the inventory phase of the archaeological research to the forefront of the planning process.

As one of the applied methods, large-scale multisensory drone surveys are carried out by the 4D Research Lab over an area of ca. 350 hectares. Using LiDAR, optical, multispectral, and thermal sensors, the resulting data will be compared to already existing desk research and archaeological surveys, as well as new geophysical prospection measurements. The drone operations and analysis of the results is still ongoing.

For more information please check the project website.



Rijnenburg drone remote sensing area
Point cloud of the research area generated by thousands of drone photographs