ipaast @ LAC 2021

Session 24: The Archaeology of rural landscapes and Agri-Tech: synergies and challenges

Thursday 10 June 2021, 7:30-10:30 UK

Details at:

Photo Credit: Victorino Mayoral-Herrera

The ipaast team is organising a virtual session at the Landscape Archaeology Conference on the morning of the 10th June 2021. In this session we’ll be hearing papers from researchers working to develop and deploy innovative methods for archaeological prospection to study the past in the context of a rapidly changing contemporary agricultural landscape. The session will conclude with a roundtable discussion on the challenges and opportunities of integrating archaeological and precision agricultural uses of remote and near surface sensing to approaches to study the past and present of agricultural landscapes.

Session Abstract

Modern archaeological prospection, which generates the data that underpins much of our archaeological understanding of past rural landscapes, emerged over the 20th century, with aerial photography becoming increasingly common from the 1940s and a range of geophysical methods together with more sophisticated techniques for spatial analysis and systematic fieldwalking developing from the 1970s-1990s. The 2000s-present have been marked by the emergence of large-area geophysics, increased spatial detail across many sensors, and improvements in the use of positioning systems and GIS. The progressive development of survey methods emerged in parallel with the development and spread of highly mechanized agriculture, particularly from the 1940s-1980s. Since the 2000s, growing concerns over environmental impacts of long term mechanized agriculture, together with improvements in geospatial technologies and sensors have led to the emergence of Precision Agriculture. Due to the continually expanding application of high resolution sensing technologies (including geochemical, geophysical and spectral observations), Precision Agriculture is positioned to fundamentally change the way in which rural landscapes are managed.

Resulting data, collected at various spatial and temporal scales, represent an opportunity and a challenge for archaeologists on two fronts. First, much of the data collected is potentially of interest to archaeologists studying past land use, but is significantly different in character from current archaeological prospection data and may require new approaches to its analysis and interpretation. Second,  developing data sharing schemes with farmers and other parties working with PA presents an opportunity to develop new relationships and to promote a positive shared agenda, but also presents significant social and policy challenges.

This session therefore explores opportunities and challenges for archaeological prospection presented by changes in agricultural practice in farmed landscapes. We welcome invites contributions that explore the relationships between changing agricultural practices, particularly precision agriculture, and possibilities for and constraints on archaeological prospection. It asks: How might changes in agricultural practices influence the character and legibility of archaeologically relevant proxies? How can archaeological prospection be adapted in response to contemporary agricultural practices? What opportunities are presented by changing policies and attitudes around agriculture, natural conservation, and rural communities to develop mutually advantageous connections between archaeological and agricultural communities, based on shared interests in the past and contemporary character of farmed landscapes?

Photo Credit: Victorino Mayoral-Herrera
Roundtable Discussion

In this roundtable discussion we will consider how we might adapt our archaeological survey practices in response to significant changes in rural land management, new and emergent agricultural practices, technological advances, and increasing emphasis, especially across Europe and the UK, on providing public benefits and taking action to address key societal challenges, notably around environment, climate and sustainability of rural communities. 


Experimentation in multichannel GPR surveys in archaeological sites with tree crops: the cases of Arva and Libisosa. – Lázaro Lagóstena-Barrios, Domingo Martín-Mochales, Jenny Pérez-Marrero, Isabel Rondán-Sevilla, Manuel Ruiz Barroso

Non-invasive research of the roman Gades aqueduct route in agricultural use contexts: methodology and problematics. – Jenny Crisal Pérez-Marrero, José Antonio Ruiz Gil, Isabel
Rondán Sevilla, Domingo Martín Mochales, Francisco, Javier Catalán González

Bringing together Archaeology and Precision Agriculture: challenges and opportunities in data sharing and community building. – Rachel Opitz and Victorino Mayoral Herrera  

Is a synergy between precision agriculture and the preservation of archaeological heritage really possible? Some reflections and experiences from the Spanish-Portuguese border – Victorino Mayoral Herrera and Jose María Terrón López 

Some ideas on the potential of new multitemporal multisource remote sensing data for the development of synergistic approaches between archaeology and precision agriculture – Hector A. Orengo, Arnau Garcia-Molsosa, Cameron A. Petrie

Three case studies integrating archaeology and precision agriculture in the UK – Henry Webber 


apply to work with us

Research Associate in Remote and Near Surface Sensing – Archaeology / Agriculture Cross-Domain Applications 

University of Glasgow Archaeology is seeking a Research Assistant to join the project “Developing a method for studying the Critical Zone: Connecting Archaeological and Precision Agricultural approaches to agrarian landscapes by making their advanced sensing data interoperable”, funded by the British Academy. 

This position is available on a fixed-term basis for approximately 22 months, and the candidate will ideally start in June 2021. The appointment will be for the equivalent of 0.5 FTE, with work scheduled and home / remote working arrangements as agreed with the line manager. 

The successful candidate will have a good understanding of current issues and future directions within the broad domains of archaeological near-surface prospection (geophysics) and remote sensing (aerial survey). They will have knowledge of technical models, equipment or techniques related to archaeological remote or near-surface sensing and relevant fieldwork experience. They will also have knowledge of models and techniques for geospatial data integration and technical competence in management and analysis of geospatial data. Knowledge in soil science, environmental science, heritage management, or agricultural science is desirable.  

The successful candidate will be expected to contribute to the management and direction of this international and multi-stakeholder project; to liaise professionally with colleagues across research, public and industry sectors; to engage with the collection, synthesis and analysis of data and metadata related to remote and near-surface sensing technologies as applied in archaeology and precision agriculture; and to contribute to the formulation and submission of research publications and project impact deliverables. 

Applicants are encouraged to contact Dr. Rachel Opitz (University of Glasgow – and Dr. Philippe de Smedt (Ghent University – regarding the position.   

Salary will be on the University’s Research and Teaching Grade 7, £35,845 – £40,322 per annum. This post has approved funding for 22 months on a part time basis (0.5 FTE).

To apply online for this vacancy and to view further information about the role, please visit the recruitment website.

Closing Date for Applications: 1 June 2021 

Please quote reference 056366 on your application and in any correspondence about this vacancy. 

It is the University of Glasgow’s mission to foster an inclusive climate, which ensures equality in our working, learning, research and teaching environment. 

We strongly endorse the principles of Athena SWAN, including a supportive and flexible working environment, with commitment from all levels of the organisation in promoting gender equality. 

This position is based at the University of Glasgow, charity number SC004401.