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What Do You Mean There is Such a Thing as a Space Archaeologist?

hold on to your butts


As it happens, infrared satellite technology does not only detect heat — it can uncover cities, tell us if a tomb has been looted, and provide tons of new information from space. Dr. Sarah Parcak, an Egyptologist from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, has used this technology to find “two pyramids, one thousand tombs, and 3,000 ancient settlements” in the Egyptian city of Tanis using a satellite orbiting 700 km (435 miles) from the Earth. Parcak says that we’ve officially “moved on” from Indiana Jones. 

This picture provides a bit more context as to why this is such an interesting find:

This former capital of ancient Egypt has been covered in silt over the past centuries. The key to this find was the building material of the settlements, mud brick, which is dense and easy to find through this method of excavation. Because of the mud brick, it was easier to distinguish separations and passageways (or streets) as well as identify objects that were about a meter in length. According to the BBC, excavations had already confirmed some of the satellite’s findings, such as the two pyramids. Now that Parcak and her team have been able to confirm what she found in satellite photos, Tanis is considered one of the most important archeological finds in Egypt. She says:

“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.”

Egypt plans to utilize “space archeology” to protect its ancient past, especially from looters. Because the technology can actual detect whether a tomb has been looted. In that case, if something shows up on the satellite photos, Interpol will find out about it.

We’re also assuming that such satellite imagery can detect hidden traps and boulders so future Indys (Indies?) can just go about his business without any unwanted surprises.

(BBC via Gizmodo)

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