September 14, 2015

Now this might be cool

Filed under: Amateur, Paleoanth, Remote Sensing — acagle @ 3:06 pm

Fossil Finder wants amateur archaeologists for online sleuthing

Ever dream of pulling an ancient jawbone from a hidden cave somewhere? A new interactive website could help you realize your archaeological aspirations.

The site, Fossil Finder, seeks volunteers to comb through its database of images from Kenya’s Turkana Basin, where numerous fossils of our human ancestors, as well as a range of other animals dating back millions of years, have been found.

I think this is an excellent use of the power of the Interwebs.

September 8, 2015


Filed under: Remote Sensing, Stonehenge — acagle @ 11:02 am

Stonehenge researchers ‘may have found largest Neolithic site’

Remote sensing and geophysical imaging technology has been used to reveal evidence of nearly 100 stones without the need for excavation.
The monument is just under two miles (3km) from Stonehenge, Wiltshire, and is thought to have been a Neolithic ritual site.
Experts think it may have surrounded traces of springs and a dry valley leading into the River Avon.
Although no stones have been excavated they are believed to be fashioned from sarsen blocks found locally.

I was unable to determine what the white outlined stuff is, but it seems to be an earthen enclosure (the Durrington Walls) of unspecified function (defensive?) surrounding a known Neolithic village site.

I particularly like that the stones were discovered via remote sensing, probably ground penetrating radar.

There’s a video at the link but it was irritating me so I didn’t get to play it.

July 6, 2015

The last frontier of archaeology

Filed under: Remote Sensing, Underwater archaeology — acagle @ 7:18 pm

Deep-sea exploration will soon be an option for most archaeologists

When Plato first came up with the myth of Atlantis, he probably didn’t expect that the mysterious island would keep stirring debates and feeding popular imagination for over 2000 years. Yet, Atlantis fantasies say a lot about the mysteries still surrounding Earth’s seabeds: Whilst our seas and oceans are packed with inviolate submerged sites and shipwrecks, archaeological and scientific discoveries are still hindered by logistical and financial barriers, and low-cost, flexible solutions are desperately needed.

Aiming to boost research in this field, the EUR 4 million ARROWS (Archaeological Robot systems for the World’s Seas) project picks up where military security and offshore oil and gas technologies left off by creating underwater exploration vehicles tailored to the needs and expectations of deep-sea archaeologists.

My first target would be the Black Sea. If there’s anything representing a truly lost civilization out there, it’s at the bottom of the Black Sea.

May 26, 2015

Nothing is given without a disadvantage to it

Filed under: Amateur, Remote Sensing — acagle @ 7:38 pm

Google Earth solves and creates problems for archaeologists

Increasingly, amateur archaeologists are using imaging technology like Google Earth to help them find indications of ancient sites – such as eroded agricultural furrows, defensive berms and burial mounds – that might go unnoticed at ground level.

While some archaeology hobbyists report their finds to the proper authorities and act responsibly, others despoil sites and their holdings through unintentionally improper excavations or outright looting.

April 20, 2015


Filed under: Historic, Remote Sensing — acagle @ 7:29 pm

Ghosts from the past brought back to life

Myriah Williams and Professor Paul Russell from Cambridge’s Department of Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic (ASNC), believe that a 16th century owner of the book, probably a man named Jaspar Gryffyth, summarily erased centuries’ worth of additional verse, doodles and marginalia which had been added to the manuscript as it changed hands throughout the years.

However, using a combination of ultraviolet light and photo editing software, the 16th century owner’s penchant for erasure has been partly reversed to reveal snatches of poetry which are previously unrecorded in the canon of Welsh verse. Currently, the texts are very fragmentary and in need of much more analysis, although they seem to be the continuation of a poem on the preceding page with a new poem added at the foot of the page.

Raiders Droners of the Lost Pots

Filed under: Conservation/CRM, Remote Sensing — acagle @ 7:19 pm

Drones putting archaeologists on trail of looted antiquities

At a sprawling Bronze Age cemetery in southern Jordan, archaeologists have developed a unique way of peering into the murky world of antiquities looting: With aerial photographs taken by a homemade drone, researchers are mapping exactly where — and roughly when — these ancient tombs were robbed.
. . .
It’s sophisticated detective work that stretches from the site, not far from the famed Dead Sea in Jordan, to collectors and buyers the world over.

The aerial photography detects spots where new looting has taken place at the 5,000-year-old Fifa graveyard, which can then sometimes be linked to Bronze Age pots turning up in shops of dealers, said Morag Kersel, an archaeologist at DePaul University in Chicago. Kersel, who heads the “Follow The Pots” project, also shares the data with Jordan’s Department of Antiquities, to combat looting.

I worked with Morag in Egypt in 1996. Although I wouldn’t have recognized her at all from that picture. . . . .

March 9, 2015

Not so odd after all

Filed under: Conservation/CRM, Remote Sensing — acagle @ 6:59 pm

Archaeologists Use Moles To Solve Mysteries Of Middle Ages’ Fort

BLOCK: Danish archaeologist Yesper Yah-mind is working on a site where he believes a medieval manor once stood. He’s not allowed to dig on the site because the land is protected by the government. But luckily, it’s also home to a colony of moles – so he lets them do his dirty work instead.

YESPER YAH-MIND: On top of these mole hills there sometimes are pottery or sometimes are small pieces of bricks.

SIEGEL: Doesn’t sound like much but Yah-mind says, there are mountains in those molehills.

We use such things as well. Many times when we’re surveying a property — usually doing some subsurface probing — if there are mole hills present we always take a look at the sediment because they will often bring up shell midden material; it can be a good little non-destructive mapping tool.

I think they’re kinda cute. . . . .

March 6, 2015

Lost civilization civilization. . . .fou. . . .hey!

Filed under: Remote Sensing — acagle @ 3:19 pm

Exclusive: Lost City Discovered in the Honduran Rain Forest

An expedition to Honduras has emerged from the jungle with dramatic news of the discovery of a mysterious culture’s lost city, never before explored. The team was led to the remote, uninhabited region by long-standing rumors that it was the site of a storied “White City,” also referred to in legend as the “City of the Monkey God.”

Archaeologists surveyed and mapped extensive plazas, earthworks, mounds, and an earthen pyramid belonging to a culture that thrived a thousand years ago, and then vanished. The team, which returned from the site last Wednesday, also discovered a remarkable cache of stone sculptures that had lain untouched since the city was abandoned.

Actually looks legit, although one would wager it’s at least somewhat related to everything else in the area. And mostly found through LIDAR. I’m not convinced it’s as completely untouched as the article implies if logging has been done with within a few miles of the valley.


March 5, 2015


Filed under: Remote Sensing — acagle @ 8:21 pm

High-Tech Tools Map Baptistery of St. John

Using Lidar technology, ultra-high-resolution photography, and thermal imaging techniques, Mike Hess and Mike Yeager of the University of California, San Diego, created a 3-D digital model of the interior, exterior, and façade of the Baptistery of St. John, which sits in Florence’s Piazza del Duomo. “The point cloud data—taken from 80 Lidar scans—becomes the geometric scaffold for the high-resolution thermal imagery. The data can be projected into 3-D space so we know exactly what we’re looking at spatially. The drawings are spatially accurate and we can now pull a measurement for any part of the building we want to look at, down to the millimeter,” Yeager said in a University of California, San Diego press release.

I love this sort of thing. Accurate mapping and imaging some together to make a super precise digital copy of virtually anything. I can’t wait for 3D printing to become cheap enough (and colorful enough) that you could download and print out a copy of virtually any art object. And scale it to any size! Imagine having a near-perfect replica of the Venus de Milo sitting on your desk within an hour of deciding you want one. Or a Nefertiti head for the front entry. Or line the walls of your living room with the Elgin marbles. Yeah. . . . . .

February 23, 2015

Archaeological Drones of Intrusiveness

Filed under: Remote Sensing — acagle @ 8:01 pm

Drones and satellites spot lost civilizations in unlikely places

What do the Sahara desert and the Amazon rainforest have in common? Until recently, archaeologists would have told you they were both inhospitable environments devoid of large-scale human settlements. But they were wrong. Here today at the annual meeting of the AAAS (which publishes Science), two researchers explained how remote sensing technology, including satellite imaging and drone flights, is revealing the traces of past civilizations that have been hiding in plain sight.

“Although [the Amazon and Sahara] seem so different, a lot of the questions are actually very similar,” says David Mattingly, an archaeologist at the University of Leicester in the United Kingdom. He studies a culture known as the Garamantes, which began building a network of cities, forts, and farmland around oases in the Sahara of southern Libya around 1000 B.C.E. The civilization reached its peak in the early centuries of the Common Era, only to decline after 700 C.E., possibly because they had tapped out the region’s ground water, Mattingly explains.

Pretty good, although short, article. I’ve linked to several of these sorts of stories before.

Odd term, “geoglyphs”. I usually think of those as smaller rock carvings, not large-scale earthworks.

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