Using the same principles as radar, airborne lidar was first developed in the 1960s for submarine detection, but apart from a brief use in Costa Rica in 1984 archaeological use only developed from 2000 onwards when national agencies and commercial companies started to collect large datasets for flood prevention, development and planning purposes.
One early archaeological research project was carried out by a team including staff from Cambridge University, and used lidar on the Loughcrew landscape in Ireland with dramatic results (Shell & Roughley 2004). Hundreds of potentially new archaeological sites were discovered. At about the same time in Germany, Sittler carried out some research that dramatically revealed extensive medieval ridge and furrow cultivation preserved in later woodlands near Rastatt in south-west Germany (Sittler 2004). Since that date there has been a proliferation in the use of lidar data for archaeology