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Old 06-10-2016, 02:24 PM   #1
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Archaeologists discover massive ancient platform at Petra

Archaeologists have used satellite imagery and drone photography to discover an enormous ceremonial platform near the center of the ancient city of Petra.

Sarah Parcak and Christopher Tuttle published their finding in a new report that reveals the monument that has been, as the paper is titled, hiding in plain sight. That is all the more impressive because of the platform’s size: at 184 by 161 feet, it’s roughly the length of an Olympic swimming pool (and twice the width), National Geographic reports.

Lots of internet traffic on this story, but no mention of The Item.

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Old 06-10-2016, 02:34 PM   #2
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Wasn't it some sort of ceremonial palace?

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Old 01-06-2018, 11:43 AM   #3
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This story has been out there for a while, so I just looked for an update. Not much in the scholarly literature, which tells me the PIs are probably still analyzing their data and figuring out what to do next. The initial journal article citation is:
"Hiding in Plain Sight: The Discovery of a New Monumental Structure at Petra, Jordan, Using WorldView-1 and WorldView-2 Satellite Imagery."
Sarah Parcak and Christopher A. Tuttle. Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research No. 375 (May 2016), pp. 35-51.
The abstract is free online through JSTOR:

"This article describes the discovery and mapping of a large, previously unknown monumental structure at Petra, Jordan, using Google Earth, WorldView-1 and WorldView-2, and drones. Petra represents one of the most well-known and surveyed archaeological parks in the world; yet significant structures within range of its central city remain to be discovered. This article discusses the significance of the new discovery in relationship to Petra and its cultural landscape as well as the potential of WorldView-1, -2, and -3 satellite sensors for other archaeological projects in similar geographic areas."

There's a cliché in archaeology that says if you can't come up with a functional purpose for something, it must be ceremonial. But that makes this platform's location problematic.

I'm no Nabataean expert, but what has always impressed me about them was their ingenious and elaborate management of water: collection, storage, distribution, irrigation. It allowed them to prosper in a hostile niche along a key trade route.
If I were working on a next-phase research design, I'd include remote sensing of what's under the "platform," using ground-penetrating radar (GPR). Also possible buried conduits leading to and from the feature. I don't see that in Parcak & Tuttle's write-up, but that means little.
A stab in the dark, but you saw it here first.
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