Saturday, May 28, 2011

Finding Lost Egyptian Pyramids with Infrared Archaeology

[via BBC News]

A team of archaeologists recently discovered several Pyramids, tomb locations, and the layout of the ancient city of Tanis in Egypt using infrared satellite imagery. 
The team analysed images from satellites orbiting 700km above the earth, equipped with cameras so powerful they can pin-point objects less than 1m in diameter on the earth's surface. 
Infra-red imaging was used to highlight different materials under the surface....Ancient Egyptians built their houses and structures out of mud brick, which is much denser than the soil that surrounds it, so the shapes of houses, temples and tombs can be seen.
This is not the first time that "remote sensing techniques" like infrared thermal scanning have been used by archaeologists – dense, hard to excavate places like Cambodia's Angkor Wat (amid a sea of landmines) and Mayan ruins in Central America have also been recently discovered and mapped out using satellite imagery.

While I bet nobody expected to find as many unknown Egyptian ruins as this archaeological team did, I'm interested to see what sorts of history-rewriting, "out-of-nowhere" finds archaeologists make as these techniques become more widespread.

If more sites like these pop up in the future, it'll definitely be an exciting, debate-and-controversy-filled time to be an archaeologist or an ancient historian.

...oh, wait, it already is.

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