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Old 05-12-2010, 03:27 AM   #1
Le Saboteur
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Archeology from the Air



I first came across the idea of using remote sensory in modern archeology a couple of years back. Specifically speaking, in Jurassic Park -- Dr. Grant was using a version of radar while excavating velociraptor skeletons -- but it wasn't until a few years ago during Dr. Albert Lin's search for Genghis Khan's tomb that I heard of it being used in actual archeological work.

Today a husband and wife team have used lidar (light detection and ranging) to help determine the length and breadth of the ancient Mayan city of Caracol, reputed to be one of the largest cities in the lowlands. While it certainly takes more of the romance out of archeology, the technology has the potential to be quite useful in future excavations. Especially in heavily forested areas across the globe. Does it replace actually digging in the dirt? No, but administrators are bound to love it.

The attached podcast has an interview with the husband and wife team, and you can read the accompanying article over at The New York Times' site.



And if you're interested, one of the people in the article, has published a book that "focuses on the practical application of remote sensing and how it can be applied to ongoing archeological work around the globe." Check it out here. In depth information on the dig in process can be found over at the site's site.
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Old 05-12-2010, 07:44 PM   #2
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Back when the fourth Indy movie came out, the history channel did a whole lot of shows on real life Indiana Jones'. In one of those programs I remember seeing something about NASA using satellites they had in orbit around the earth to take photographic images around the Yucatan. they used thermal imaging, and located all of the known archaeological sites(all of the pyramids and stuff). then using what they learned from those images they found a lost pyramid in the middle of the jungle. Its wickedly cool stuff. especially for those select few people in the world who enjoy the idea of archeaology, but can't seem to get away from our modern world. "close a door... open a window"
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Old 05-14-2010, 10:36 PM   #3
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I saw an article on this, something about using satellites to find the lost city of Zinj in the Amazon:

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/new...cle6982391.ece
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Old 05-14-2010, 11:17 PM   #4
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With technological advancements like this to enhance modern archeology, those 13 crystal skulls are as good as found.
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Old 05-15-2010, 11:40 PM   #5
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Nah, what we should be doing is looking for Cobra's obsidian cubes.
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Old 05-06-2014, 02:57 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yo quiero Taco Bell.
Does it replace actually digging in the dirt? No, but administrators are bound to love it.

Administrators are also going to love this.

Drones, or UAV's (that's Unmanned Ariel Vehicles), are all the rage these days. If the Federales aren't trying to fly one through the front door of your house while you're sleeping, then Amazon wants thousands of the things buzzing around your neighborhood like some perverse claw game. Some enterprising surf photographers are now using them to catch you dropping in at The Banzai Pipeline, and it's only a matter of time before some kidnapper snatches somebody's child with one. While you let that sink in for a moment, it has found more innocuous applications in the realms of biology and archeology.



War's Over. Surf's Up. Gringo's Welcome.

In the archeological space, the Peruvians seem to have taken to concept rather eagerly.

Quote:
Originally Posted by CBC
With an archaeology budget of around $5 million, the Culture Ministry often struggles to protect Peru's more than 13,000 sites. Only around 2,500 of them have been properly marked off, according to the ministry.

"And when a site is not properly demarcated, it is illegally occupied, destroyed, wiped from the map," said Blanca Alva, an official with the ministry charged with oversight.


Steve Wernke, an archaeologist with Vanderbilt University exploring the shift from Incan to Spanish rule in the Andes, started looking into drones more than two years ago.

He tried out a drone package from a U.S. company that cost around $40,000. But after the small plane had problems flying in the thin air of the Andes, Wernke and his colleague, engineer Julie Adams, teamed up and built two drones for less than $2,000.

The drones continue to have altitude problems in the Andes, and Wernke and Adams now plan to make a drone blimp.

"There is an enormous democratization of the technology happening now," Wernke said, adding that do-it-yourself websites like DIYdrones.com have helped enthusiasts share information.

Full article: Drones Used for Archeological Mapping in Peru

Quote:
Originally Posted by Live Science
Archaeologists and other scientists who want to study the Earth from above are increasingly looking at drones as a research tool as the cost for unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs, goes down. But the technology is hardly perfect, and there are legal hurdles, too.

"People who fly them for fun say it's not a question of if you'll crash it, but when and how badly," Casana said. He found that to be true in his trials. Hardware sometimes comes loose mid-flight and the software on the ground occasionally freezes, Casana said. He travels with replacement parts and backup systems like balloons and kites.

Full article: Drone Images Reveal Buried Ancient Village in New Mexico

Quote:
Originally Posted by National Geographic
The pilotless aircraft have been employed to map remote Moche culture burial sites in Peru and construct 3-D images of Gallo-Roman ruins buried under Swiss highways. In at least one case, the small, remotely controlled craft have also located new, hard-to-reach rock art sites in the American Southwest.

"A whole set of technologies have come together over the past five to seven years that makes drones extremely attractive," said Austin "Chad" Hill, an archaeologist and drone pilot with the University of Connecticut who is assisting with Kersel's research. "You can attach magnetometers, barometers, GPS devices, and all sorts of cameras to these things. It gives you enormous amounts of useful data."

Hill displayed his drone piloting skills recently at a 6,500-year-old Copper Age site called Marj Rabba in northern Israel.

Using a Skywalker 1680 model plane that weighed about ten pounds, Hill launched the small aircraft by hand and flew it with a small, radio-controlled handset. An inexpensive pocket camera mounted in the drone's belly took thousands of near-infrared digital photos of surface vegetation, which would be analyzed for subtle differences in coloration to reveal underground buildings. (Grass growing on top of rock structures is often stunted, and appears to be a different hue in that range of the color spectrum.)

Full article: Drones: Archeology's Newest Tool to Combat Looting
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Old 02-07-2018, 02:02 AM   #7
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I meant to post this last week, but you know how things go.

LiDAR continues to be fruitful. A recent scan spearheaded by the PACUNAM Foundation revealed some 60,000(!) man made structures hidden beneath the jungles of Northern Guatemala. In addition to raised highways connecting the various locations, the scan revealed several defensive fortifications including ramparts and fortresses.

I can see my house from here!

Full article here: Guatemala's Maya Society Featured Huge 'Megalopolis'. LiDAR Shows

Just imagine what they'll find once the three-year initiative is finally completed!
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Old 02-07-2018, 08:06 AM   #8
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If it weren't for climate change, looters, fundamentalist iconoclasts and the collateral casualties of warfare, this would be the new Golden Age of Archaeology. So many new technologies available to the good guys-- and the bad guys.
I was looking for early definitions of "landscape archaeology" the other day, and came across John Bradford's "Ancient Landscapes: Studies in Field Archaeology" (1957). It's a treatise on the use of aerial photography. Many of the techniques he used are still being applied, now using LIDAR and infrared imaging. Bradford credits a 1928 publication, "Wessex from the Air" as having "consolidated a systematic foundation for the archaeological study of air photographs." So we are approaching the centenary of what Bradford termed "air archaeology."

With thousands of newly-identified potential sites, we'll need better ways to learn which of them actually need ground-truthing and protection-- from development and/or high-tech looters. Infrared vegetation imaging is an excellent beginning, but doesn't always apply. Non-invasive technologies like ground-penetrating radar currently require a field crew. Taking remote sensing from the level of the "virtual walk-through" to the next level, the "virtual shovel survey" is the new horizon.
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Old 02-07-2018, 10:54 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Le Saboteur
I meant to post this last week, but you know how things go.

LiDAR continues to be fruitful. A recent scan spearheaded by the PACUNAM Foundation revealed some 60,000(!) man made structures hidden beneath the jungles of Northern Guatemala. In addition to raised highways connecting the various locations, the scan revealed several defensive fortifications including ramparts and fortresses.

I can see my house from here!

Full article here: Guatemala's Maya Society Featured Huge 'Megalopolis'. LiDAR Shows

Just imagine what they'll find once the three-year initiative is finally completed!

Fun Fact: One of the researchers on this project was on my graduate thesis committee for my master's degree in GIS. Also i took three undergraduate courses with him.
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Old 02-07-2018, 11:18 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by TheFedora
Fun Fact: One of the researchers on this project was on my graduate thesis committee for my master's degree in GIS. Also I took three undergraduate courses with him.

Way cool. That's the kind of social network that actually matters. Hope you get to play that card!
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Old 05-06-2018, 08:19 PM   #11
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Who flies these drones? Archaeologists? Or do they hire outside drone operators? I'm a filmmaker and can fly drones and would love for that to be an in for me with archaeology. Although, anyone can learn to fly them, grab the 3D mapping software and get a license to fly so I imagine archaeologists are flying them now.
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