R. Gerlach 1 / I. Herzog 1 / J. von Koblinski 2
(1 Rheinisches Amt für Bodendenkmalpflege, Bonn, Germany / 2 Universität Köln, Germany)

When we first created digital elevation models in the fairly flat loess regions of the Rhine area, the results were quite disenchanting: The main features visible in the elevation maps were motorways and other roads, railway tracks, sports areas, and other modern features. In addition, pits became visible whose diameter varied between 50 and 130m, with a depth of 2m or less. These pits have not been created by geological processes but are man-made: The loess region was one of the centres of the brick industry, and the raw material was taken from these pits which were later refilled in part. In a project at the Rheinisches Amt für Bodendenkmalpflege in Bonn, Germany, we try to assess the amount of change the natural landscape has undergone due to modern construction work, pits, and other sources. The project uses GIS technology to record those pits which are visible on historic and contemporary maps. DEM’s using relief shading technique provide the best methods so far for detecting the pits as well as other non-natural features. The project focuses not only on typical loess regions but also on flood plane landscapes such as the Lower Rhine area. In urban areas, archaeologists are aware of the destruction caused by the construction work of modern times. But in the Rhineland much of the rural landscape has been reshaped with similar consequences: Where the pits contained artefacts these have been relocated, where the pits were refilled, often finds from other places have been deposited. By field walking authentic sites and pseudo-sites are detected alike, and the relocated sites are frequently not recognised as such. This applies for a significant percentage of the Rhine area, and in other regions which were densely populated during the past two centuries similar results are to be expected.