Bhoo-Mandal Talk on October 16, 2020
Talk title: Patterns in Past Settlements: Geospatial Analysis of Imprints of Cultural Heritage on Landscapes
Speaker: Dr. Rajani M. B., Associate Professor, NIAS
Time: October 16, 2020, 4 pm IST
Venue: Virtual Talk on IEEE WebEx
This talk is about a new branch of archaeology that scrutinizes landscapes to find evidence of past human activity. Such evidence can be hard to detect at ground-level but may be visible in remote sensing (RS) imagery from aerial platforms and satellites. Drawing on examples from around the world as well as from her own research work on archaeological sites in India (including Nalanda, Agra, Srirangapatna, Talakadu, and Mahabalipuram), the speaker presents a systematic process for integrating this information with historical spatial records such as old maps, paintings, and field surveys using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to gain new insights into our past. Further, the talk highlights several instances where these insights are actionable — they have been used to identify, understand, conserve, and protect the fragile remnants of our past.
This talk is centered around the eponymous book by the author. This book will be of particular interest not only to researchers in archaeology, history, art history, and allied fields but to governmental and non-governmental professionals working in cultural heritage protection and conservation. The book is available at https://www.springer.com/gp/book/9789811574658
M B Rajani is an Associate Professor at the National Institute of Advanced Studies, Bangalore. She received the Rachapudi Kamakshi Memorial Young Geospatial Scientist Award 2011 for her Ph.D. work. She is a member of the Indian National Young Academy of Science 2018–2022, a Young Affiliate 2019–2023 of The World Academy of Sciences, and recipient of the Indian Society of Remote Sensing’s P R Pisharoty Memorial Award 2019. Rajani’s research has two inter-related facets: analyzing cultural landscapes using geospatial data to identify new features of archaeological interest and advancing the usage of such analysis for preserving built heritage in the face of rapidly growing infrastructural development and urbanization. Her primary scientific contribution has been to develop a methodology for detecting tell-tale signs of past human activities on landscapes from satellite imagery and integrating these findings with other spatial data to generate new inferences and novel hypotheses about the past. Her work has therefore expanded the field of archaeology to include the study of human impact on landscapes. Her findings based on remote sensing analysis at the site Talakadu (published in 2009–10) were confirmed 8 years later through conventional excavations, and her analysis of Nalanda has revealed the larger archaeological expanse around the protected site.