Reconstructing Pre-Industrial Long Distance Roads in a Hilly Region in Germany, Based on Historical and Archaeological Data

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Irmela Herzog


The aim of this contribution is on the one hand to map pre-industrial long distance roads located in a hilly region east of Cologne, Germany, as exactly as possible and on the other hand to assess the accuracy of least-cost approaches that are increasingly applied by archaeologists for prehistoric road reconstruction. Probably the earliest map covering the study area east of Cologne dates back to 1575. The map is distorted so that rectification is difficult. But it is possible to assess the local accuracy of the map and to transfer the approximate routes to a modern map manually. Most of the area covered by the 1575 map is also depicted on a set of more accurate maps created in the early 19th century and a somewhat later historical map set (ca. 1842 AD). The historical roads on these rectified historical maps close to the approximate roads were digitized and compared to the outcomes of least-cost analysis, specifically least-cost paths and accessibility maps. Based on these route reconstructions with limited accuracy, Lidar data is checked to identify remains of these roads. Several approaches for visualizing Lidar data are tested to identify appropriate methods for detecting sunken roads. Possible sunken roads detected on the Lidar images were validated by checking cross sections in the digital elevation model and in the field.


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Herzog, I. (2017). Reconstructing Pre-Industrial Long Distance Roads in a Hilly Region in Germany, Based on Historical and Archaeological Data. Studies in Digital Heritage, 1(2), 642–660.
Special Issue "Cultural Heritage and New Technologies 2016"


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