Move Over Indiana Jones, It’s Space-Age Technology to the Rescue! Posted on May 25th, 2011 by

Very cool!  Just when you thought all the big stuff had already been found, it looks like the swash-buckling archaeologist days of Howard Carter and  Heinrich Schliemann are back again.  Kind of.  Armed with infrared technology that has already led to exciting discoveries and has the potential to discourage looting (ahem), archaeologists are excited to report that thousands of tombs, settlements, and even 17 pyramids are just waiting to be dug up by current and future archaeologists.  Get your axes ready.  Egyptology’s back, and it’s gonna be big!

The infrared image on the right reveals the ancient city streets of Tanis near modern-day San El Hagar

Seventeen lost pyramids are among the buildings identified in a new satellite survey of Egypt.

More than 1,000 tombs and 3,000 ancient settlements were also revealed by looking at infra-red images which show up underground buildings.

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.

“It just shows us how easy it is to underestimate both the size and scale of past human settlements,” says Dr Parcak.

And she believes there are more antiquities to be discovered:

“These are just the sites [close to] the surface. There are many thousands of additional sites that the Nile has covered over with silt. This is just the beginning of this kind of work.”

“They’d excavated a 3,000-year-old house that the satellite imagery had shown and the outline of the structure matched the satellite imagery almost perfectly. That was real validation of the technology.”

The Egyptian authorities plan to use the technology to help – among other things – protect the country’s antiquities in the future.

During the recent revolution, looters accessed some well-known archaeological sites.

“We can tell from the imagery a tomb was looted from a particular period of time and we can alert Interpol to watch out for antiquities from that time that may be offered for sale.”

She also hopes the new technology will help engage young people in science and will be a major help for archaeologists around the world.


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