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  • British Council
  • University of Leicester

Advanced Archaeological Remote Sensing: Site Prospection, Landscape Archaeology and Heritage Protection in the Middle East and North Africa

Gain a deeper understanding of how satellite imagery can be used to identify and protect archaeological sites.

1,596 enrolled on this course

Sentinel-2 multispectral image of Lagash and the surrounding area, courtesy of ESA.
  • Duration

    6 weeks
  • Weekly study

    3 hours
  • Digital upgrade


Discover cutting-edge developments in remote sensing for cultural heritage

The Endangered Archaeology in the Middle East and North Africa (EAMENA) project uses satellite imagery and remote sensing to identify and monitor threats to heritage sites across the MENA region.

On this six-week advanced course from Durham University, you’ll deepen your understanding of remote sensing technology and its uses for the protection of cultural heritage. Focusing on the Middle East and North Africa, you’ll be trained to visualise and analyse remote sensing imagery.

Learn how to source, display, and analyse satellite imagery

Accessing satellite imagery is the first step in exploring archaeological sites and landscapes.

In the first week of the course, you’ll gain a comprehensive overview of satellite imagery, learning how it can be used to gather data about features on the earth’s surface.

Get to grips with multispectral imaging and spatial analysis

Satellite remote sensing often uses multispectral imaging. In Week 3, you’ll learn how to carry out simple analyses on multispectral images, and what the value of this data is for analysing archaeology.

You’ll also examine satellite radar data, and learn about the digital elevation models that can be generated from it.

Improve your mapping skills to process archaeological data

In the final two weeks of the course, you’ll develop a toolkit for processing data sourced through satellite remote sensing. You’ll discuss the most effective ways of mapping, georeferencing, and digitising historic maps and imagery, so that data is presented clearly and accurately.

You’ll finish the course with an in-depth knowledge of the uses of satellite remote sensing for cultural heritage protection, and the technical skills you need to conduct your own archaeological analysis.


  • Week 1

    Remote sensing and archaeology

    • Introduction

      Introducing the course and meeting the team!

    • Understanding remote sensing

      The basics of remote sensing and satellite imagery

    • Applications of remote sensing

      Exploring the three main applications for remote sensing in archaeology.

    • Making the most of remote sensing data

      Exploring how we can use remote sensing imagery and other similar datasets.

  • Week 2

    Introduction to satellite imagery

    • How does satellite imagery work?

      An overview of how satellite imagery is created.

    • Downloading our first satellite imagery

      A practical demonstration of downloading Sentinel-2 satellite imagery.

    • Displaying our first satellite imagery

      A practical demonstration on how to use QGIS to open the downloaded Sentinel-2 imagery.

  • Week 3

    Multispectral satellite imagery

    • Seeing beyond visible light

      An introduction to how multispectral satellite imagery uses non-visible parts of the electromagnetic spectrum.

    • Multispectral imagery and archaeology

      How archaeologists can use multispectral satellite imagery in their work.

    • Working with multispectral imagery

      Downloading multispectral Landsat imagery and working with it in QGIS

    • Multispectral imagery indices

      An introduction to indices calculated from multispectral imagery.

  • Week 4

    Radar, elevation data and topographical analysis

    • Radar and remote sensing

      An introduction to how radar can be used for satellite remote sensing.

    • Mapping the Earth's topography

      An overview of NASA's SRTM mission, using radar to map the Earth's surface, and how we can use this digital elevation data.

    • Working with elevation data

      Practical instruction on how to add and visualise digital elevation models in QGIS, and run some simple topographical analyses using DEMs.

  • Week 5

    Historical imagery and maps

    • Why historical data?

      Exploring how historical maps and imagery can be useful to archaeologists.

    • Working with Corona spy photography

      An introduction to the USA's first satellite imagery program.

    • Working with historical maps

      An overview of where you can find historical maps and how to use them.

  • Week 6

    Putting it all together!

    • Lake Hamrin: an example workflow

      A real-life example workflow from Iraq for gathering and visualising remote sensing data, and digitising archaeological information.

    • Making maps and citing sources

      How to make fantastic maps in QGIS and properly cite the datasets and imagery you have used.

    • Over to you!

      For this final part of the course we want you to share what you have learnt with us and with each other.

When would you like to start?

Start straight away and join a global classroom of learners. If the course hasn’t started yet you’ll see the future date listed below.

  • Available now

Learning on this course

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Perform remote sensing tasks with free satellite imagery
  • Perform basic analysis with topographical data
  • Apply georeferencing techniques to historic maps and imagery
  • Create great maps with QGIS
  • Report accurately the data sources you have used

Who is the course for?

This course is designed for anyone interested in remote sensing and its uses within archaeology and cultural heritage.

It will be particularly useful for researchers and heritage professionals working in countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.

What software or tools do you need?

You will need a device that can run the full version of QGIS – a Windows or Linux desktop PC or laptop, or an Apple iMac or Macbook. If you are accessing the course via a phone, tablet or Chromebook you will still be able to learn the theory, but unfortunately you will not be able to complete the practical components of the course.

Who will you learn with?

Postdoctoral Research Associate with the EAMENA project at Durham University

I focus my research on the interactions between the physical and cultural domains of soil science, archaeology and heritage conservation.

I am Assistant Professor (Research) on the EAMENA project at Durham University specialising in the archaeological landscapes of ancient western Asia, and GIS and remote sensing applications.

I am a landscape archaeologist working in Southwest Asia. I specialise in using computers to understand archaeological datasets, using tools like satellite imagery and geographical information systems

I am an archaeologist who has worked in the Middle East since the late 1970s. I have a particular interest in landscape archaeology, and I am Principal Investigator of the Durham component of EAMENA

Who developed the course?

Durham University

Durham University is a collegiate university with long traditions and modern values, proud to be an international scholarly community which reflects the ambitions of cultures from around the world.

British Council

The British Council builds connections, understanding and trust between people in the UK and other countries through arts and culture, education and the English language.

We work on the ground in more than 100 countries. In 2019-20 we connected with 80 million people directly and with 791 million people overall, including online and through our broadcasts and publications.

University of Leicester

The University of Leicester is a leading research led university with a strong tradition of excellence in teaching. It is consistently ranked amongst the top 20 universities in the United Kingdom.

University of Oxford

Oxford is the oldest university in the English-speaking world. It has been at the forefront of understanding the world – and shaping it – for centuries.

What's included?

Durham University are offering everyone who joins this course a free digital upgrade, so that you can experience the full benefits of studying online for free. This means that you get:

  • Unlimited access to this course
  • Includes any articles, videos, peer reviews and quizzes
  • A PDF Certificate of Achievement to prove your success when you’re eligible
  • Learning on FutureLearn

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    Join a global classroom

    • Experience the power of social learning, and get inspired by an international network of learners
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    • Complete 90% of course steps and all of the assessments to earn your certificate

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