TRAIL 2018
Training and Research in the Archaeological Interpretation of Lidar

29th to 31st October 2018 – Postojna, Slovenia

Lidar and ancient pathways: New approaches to detection and modelling of past movement

  • pathways and movement
  • deep learning from ALS data
  • complementary data sources and their integration
  • ontologies and knowledge modelling for comparing and integrating case studies

What is a TRAIL Meeting?

TRAIL Meetings:

  • incorporate presentations of case studies and methods, interactive workshops, poster presentations, and a round table session.
  • bring together an international group of interdisciplinary scientists, professionals, and postgraduate (Masters and PhD) students.
  • provide opportunities for practical training through small group work. We aim for a 4:1 student teacher ratio in workshops to provide learning opportunities that go beyond basic technical skills. Workshops focus on specific themes and every participant will have time to attend most of the different workshops.
  • are residential, with the entire group staying and taking meals on-site at the conference venue. We have an active social programme as part of the meeting, including an international potluck.

TRAIL Meeting Ethos

TRAIL Meetings:

  • aim to foster open discussion among professionals, researchers and students who have previously worked with lidar or are currently involved in the preparatory or active phase of a project using it.
  • provide a forum to pursue collaborations and promote method sharing.
  • encourage sharing perspectives on research across Europe in archaeology, heritage management, geomorphology and other disciplines interested in detailed topographic interpretation.
  • actively promote the participation of students and early career professionals and researchers.

TRAIL IV Organization

The fourth TRAIL Meeting is organized as part of the MoveScape project (coord. L. Nuninger, Ph. Verhagen, Ž. Kokalj) supported by the CNRS (France), ZRC SAZU (Slovenia) and CLUE+, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (The Netherlands). It is organized in partnership with CITERES-LAT (Université François-Rabelais de Tours/CNRS) and the University of Glasgow.


TRAIL IV focuses on the use of lidar data for the study of pathways and movement. The investigation of pathways and movement is crucial to understand the long-term development of landscapes in the past and present. However, the study of ancient pathways and movement is currently approached from various, poorly connected angles. In particular, there is a gap between those who study the past mobility from a socio-theoretical perspective, those who study the material remains of pathways through fieldwork methods and remote sensing; and those studying through computer modelling, the processes that underlie the formation, continuation and abandonment of pathways.

Recently, the detection and identification of ancient pathways has profited enormously from the increased use of lidar-based elevation models. These discoveries, however, are fragmentary and often difficult to date, which makes it challenging to interpret the function and development of ancient communication and transport networks. In order to understand the long-term dynamics of movement and its relation to landscape and settlement development, the information on pathways retrieved through excavation, survey and remote sensing needs to be better integrated with computer models and other spatial data.

During TRAIL IV we will focus on the detection of pathways and movement through lidar surveys, and discuss connections with theories, methods and data used to study pathways and movement through diverse case studies, posing a series of questions. How do we detect paths, itineraries or networks? What kind of paths or networks can be detected using lidar? Can we interpret their chronology or function? What is missing from the lidar data and what is preserved? How can we connect different types of evidence or missing evidence?

We hope that TRAIL IV will contribute to the study of movement and pathways, and will provide an opportunity to form an international network of scholars working on these topics.

History of TRAIL

TRAIL was founded to provide opportunities to share expertise and provide training in the archaeological use of lidar so that researchers, professionals and students from a variety of backgrounds could improve their skills in detection and interpretation methods. TRAIL Meetings began in 2011, and are led by the French-Slovenian ModeLTER team, a collaboration of the MSHE C.N. Ledoux / CNRS and IAPS / ZRC SAZU.

Every TRAIL meeting revolves around a central theme. TRAIL I focused on data processing techniques, visualizations, and interpretation, while TRAIL II and III emphasised ALS data and archaeology in forests. Past workshop topics include:

  • the basic techniques:
    • data processing
    • data management
    • visualization
    • (semi-)automated detection
  • data integration:
    • coupling to GIS / modelling issues
    • (historical) cartographic sources
    • aerial photography
    • geophysics
    • field survey (ground trothing)
  • interpretation
    • landscape-archaeological perspective
  • heritage management
    • especially in relation to forestry
    • land use dynamics

Past TRAIL Meetings have been held in France at Bibracte (2011), Frasne (2014) and Chambord (2016).