Minister of State for Antiquities (MSA) Zahi Hawass announced at the ministry in Zamalek that yesterday’s media reports that researchers from the University of Alabama in the United States had identified 17 lost pyramids and thousands of ancient Egyptian settlements via infrared images is not accurate.
Hawass told Ahram Online that satellite infrared images are only able to locate anomalies beneath the sand, which cannot be identified until archaeological research is carried out. “These anomalies could be anything: a house, a tomb, a temple or even geological features,” Hawass asserted.
He continued that these images offer assistance in discovering antiquities but are generally not accurate.
And a response to Hawass by the Art of Counting
Seriously, did Zahi Hawass just spank Sarah Parcak? . . . .
While it is true that infrared images show only “anomalies” under the sand that need to be confirmed through direct examination, dismissing this data out of hand as inaccurate ignores the incredible insights that can be gained through the use of these technologies. These images DO assist in uncovering antiquities, even if the researcher does have to take them with a grain of salt and go into the process with the recognition that rather than being a true ‘map’ to an undiscovered site, these are guides that help direct to areas of incredible interest in a sea of sand.
The Art of Counting project has also encountered this type of dismissive attitude on occasion, as though statistical analysis is applicable to all other aspects of human existence but simply can’t reveal anything about ancient Egyptian imagery. Happily, there have been many scholars who have already joined the Art of Counting team, but new technologies can be overwhelming and somewhat frightening to those who do not understand them.