To characterise and quantify the extent of pre-Columbian human-modified forests we use multi-scale remote sensing information from a number of sources. We work closely with the INPE (National Institute for Space Research of Brazil). We fly a drone mounted with a high resolution multi-spectral and Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) sensors over our study areas; we also analyse high spatial resolution Landsat data (30m spatial resolution), as well as high temporal resolution Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiameter (MODIS) data (250-500m spatial resolution).
These remote sensing data, applied for the first time in Amazonia, will provide unique, very high resolution information which will be crucial for understanding the extent of anthropogenic disturbance. At the same time, we have the opportunity to test the LIDAR technology itself and its efficacy in discovering archaeological earthworks below the tropical canopy. Although ground verification will continue to be necessary, the vegetation-removal algorithms of the LIDAR sensors can replace traditional, slow and difficult settlement mapping in tropical rainforest environments. LIDAR technology thus has the capacity to revolutionise Amazonian archaeology.