Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Hiding in plain view - identifying sites from satellite photos


A slideshow demonstrating how Sarah Parcak goes about finding ancient Egyptian sites using satellite photographs.

I should warn you that the site was down over the weekend, and when it first came back up I was only able to access the first couple of slides - but it seems to be working normally at the moment. Well worth a look if you're interested in how sites are found.

Lots of people live in Egypt. They always have. So how do you find ancient ruins when modern humans live and farm the land? Sarah Parcak of the University of Alabama at Birmingham uses images from a hyperspectral satellite, which has cameras that take pictures in various wavelengths. She sorts the data to reveal the high concentrations of organic matter and phosphorus content that mark ancient Egyptian house mounds. Then she gets a closer look and starts to dig.

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