The mission of the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Archaeological Prospection and Virtual Archaeology (LBI ArchPro), as currently supported by the Ludwig Boltzmann Gesellschaft (LBG) and a consortium of ten European institutions (constituting itself of academic and dedicated research institutes, museums, heritage boards, SMEs and governmental bodies), is to promote innovative and non-invasive archaeological prospection and digital documentation methods. The main motivation that has been driving the LBI ArchPro approach so far, and which will push it beyond its limits in the future, lies in the societal necessity to develop efficient means for the reliable identification, documentation and interpretation of buried and still standing archaeological heritage, which is under serious threat from destruction and continuous deterioration.
The large-scale application of non-invasive high-resolution archaeological prospection methods and the subsequent exploration of the resulting huge 3D and 4D data sets by means of digital archaeology are the most appropriate solutions for future archaeology. The proposed innovative approach provides archaeologists and planning authorities with the necessary spatial information required for the protection and investigation of threatened buried and still standing heritage at the appropriate scales: the archaeological site as well as the surrounding archaeological landscape. The Valetta Convention (Malta Treaty) clearly states that non-destructive archaeological investigation methods should be used wherever possible – a recommendation that in practice still is mostly disregarded. However, our multidisciplinary research consortium considers this international treaty as important guideline and impetus for the advancement of future technologies and methods safeguarding and preserving our common cultural heritage.
The truly multi-disciplinary setup of the LBI ArchPro combines an internationally unique and unrivalled pool of resources and expertise. This approach integrates the scientific fields of remote sensing, geophysics, geomatics, computer sciences, and archaeological research. Thereby, the development of novel, universally applicable tools for the efficient non-destructive, high-resolution detection, visualization, spatio-temporal analysis, and integrative interpretation of our archaeological heritage becomes possible. The multi-scale strategy permits detailed archaeological investigations reaching from individual postholes to entire cultural landscapes.
The highly successful development of the LBI ArchPro so far has clearly shown the potential of the application of cutting-edge technology and integrated interpretation approaches to illuminate archaeological heritage by visualising unique and formerly unknown, otherwise invisible archaeological monuments and sites, contributing data and new information of great value to scientists, stakeholders as well as the general public alike.