Digital Heritage

Research on the Application of Remote Sensing in search of the Origins of Chinese Civilization


1.Project Name: Research on the Application of Remote Sensing in search of the Origins of Chinese Civilization
2.Project Leader: Nie Yueping, Yang Lin
3.Team Members: Yu Lijun, Zhu Jianfeng, Deng Biao, Yang Ruixia , Liu Jianguo, Yao Yueyin, Gao Huaguang
4.Project Entrusted by: State Administration of Cultural Heritage
5.Project Period: January 2013 – December 2015
6.Project Overview: 
The Research on the Origins of Chinese Civilization and Relevant Cultural Heritage Conservation Technology, funded by the National Key Technology R&D Program, is a multidisciplinary research project on the formation and early development of Chinese civilization, with a view to fully revealing the rich contents and glorious achievements of the early Chinese civilization and answering basic questions about the time, location, process, cause and mechanism of the formation of Chinese civilization. With preceding investigations and advance studies, the research project has entered the fourth phase since it was launched. In the fourth phase, the project will continue to deepen research on remote sensing, GIS, virtual reality, geophysical prospecting, archaeology, architecture, environment and other interdisciplinary subjects, make all-round exploration into the formation and early development of Chinese civilization from multiple angles and study the background, causes and characteristics of its evolution. As a modern high-tech approach, remote sensing has for the first time found systematic application in exploring the origins of Chinese civilization and achieved a series of results. 
7.Project Outcomes: 
The continuous development of China is the one and only in the world. Using space technology to explore the history of Chinese civilization is of great significance to identifying the origins of Chinese civilization. Based on the needs, the project carries out comprehensive and systematic research on the spectral and geometrical characteristics of relic sites, multi-source information fusion, extraction of relic sites’ spatial and temporal distribution information, visual features and spatial information identification of relic sites, remote sensing analysis of relic sites’ spatial features and research on spatial distribution regularities, laying a good foundation for identifying the spatial layout and spatial distribution regularities of ancient ruins and for the restoration of ancient environments. 
1.Spatial analysis of relic sites by remote sensing. There is a close relationship between the environment and the site chosen by the ancient people. Located in the center of the southern water network, the Taihu Lake is the second largest freshwater lake in China, one of the five largest freshwater lakes along the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River, and the largest lake in the eastern coastal area of China. Highlighting the application of remote sensing images and topographic overlay, the research on three-dimensional hypsometric map of key relic areas enables us to clearly study the distribution regularities of relic sites in the region. Analysis finds that a large number of relic sites are mainly located in the vicinity of the river tributaries, which complies with the rule that ancient people resided beside rivers while evading river floods. The discovery of this rule provides a scientific basis for predicting the unknown relic sites.

Analysis on the locations of relics in the Taihu Lake Basin
2.Identification of relic sites by remote sensing. As ancient ruins have changed dramatically after 5,000 years of natural weathering and vandalism, it is very difficult to identify them with naked eyes at the earth’s surface. However, thousands of years of human production and living activities on the ground, especially long-term farming and large-scale construction, would lead to differences in the surface of the region and the natural environment, thus forming particular remote sensing interpretation signs. The enhancement of images and the extraction of feature information with the help of remote sensing image processing technology make it possible to look for specific artificial traces left by the ancients from the air.
Schematic diagram of diversion of the Dongshaoxi River, Yuhang District
Abnormality detection at Yuanzhongdu Relic Sites
3.Spatial prediction of relic sites. Archaeology includes time and space, and the latter is one of the core features of archaeology. Certain rules exist between the spatial distribution of relic sites and the background environmental information. How to precisely interpret and analyze the existing aerial remote sensing and satellite images and look for potential relic sites, monuments and buried artifacts is the premise and key for relic excavation, conservation and planning and urban construction. By analyzing the known relic sites, we may find the close relationship between the distribution regularities of relic sites and the topography, slope, aspect and hydrological conditions, and based on this, construct relic site prediction models to provide a basis for the discovery and detection of ancient ruins and offer guidance to the unearthing of unknown relic sites.
太湖流域遗址 Relic sites in the Taihu Lake Basin
太湖流域DEM Taihu Lake Basin DEM
太湖流域ETM Taihu Lake Basin ETM
距水系水平距离 Horizontal distance from the river 
起伏度Relief Amplitude
遗址预测Relic site prediction
Distribution of relic sites in the Linfen Basin in different periods