April 14, 2014

Send in the drones. . . .

Filed under: Remote Sensing — acagle @ 7:56 pm

Drone Images Reveal Buried Ancient Village in New Mexico

Thermal images captured by an small drone allowed archaeologists to peer under the surface of the New Mexican desert floor, revealing never-before-seen structures in an ancient Native American settlement.

Called Blue J, this 1,000-year-old village was first identified by archaeologists in the 1970s. It sits about 43 miles (70 kilometers) south of the famed Chaco Canyon site in northwestern New Mexico and contains nearly 60 ancestral Puebloan houses around what was once a large spring.

Now, the ruins of Blue J are obscured by vegetation and buried in eroded sandstone blown in from nearby cliffs. The ancient structures have been only partially studied through excavations. Last June, a team of archaeologists flew a small camera-equipped drone over the site to find out what infrared images might reveal under the surface.

Talks a bit about current and future regulations regarding drone use. I’d not heard of the thermal imaging aspect though.

January 14, 2014

Drone warfare comes to archaeology

Filed under: Remote Sensing — acagle @ 7:59 pm

Well, drone photography anyway: Finally, A 3D-Printed Drone for Archaeologists

Though archaeologists have come a long way since Indiana Jones, they sometimes still cling to antiquated technologies, like balloons and ladders to take photos of their discoveries and trenches from above.

This month, a company formed by recent college grads called Arch Aerial rolled out a small drone designed to accompany archaeologists on far-flung expeditions.

Arch Aerial showed off their small vehicle — which is made largely from 3D-printed parts and runs on open-source flight software — here at the Archaeological Institute of America’s annual meeting this past weekend.

I think it’s great, although in five years WalMart will be selling the same things for $299. But we really need a method for taking photographs and LIDAR cheaply in the field. Having said all that, the way things are going you could probably just use a regular digital camera at near-ground level and software to give you what amounts to high-definition virtual aerial photos. But they’d cover wider areas.

December 1, 2013

Not in Australia

Filed under: Remote Sensing — acagle @ 3:17 pm

Archaeologists to determine if passage tomb at Drogheda fort

Specialist radar equipment is being used to determine if there is a passage tomb located at the site of Millmount Fort in Drogheda, Co Louth.

The Millmount Archaeological Remote Sensing project is seeking to find out more about the Norman period at the site.

The initial fieldwork took place at the end of last week and finished yesterday, where ground penetrating radar was used to non-invasively look below the surface.

I note because A) It’s a good use of remote sensing, rather than — as would have happened not even 20 years ago — just starting to dig; and B) I keyed in on the name, Drogheda, because of The Thorn Birds book which I read when just getting into archaeology in the early 1980s. Kind of a melodramatic almost glorified romance novel, but I really liked it then and actually just re-read it again in the past year or so.

October 2, 2013

“Why’d it have to be snakes. . . . .”

Filed under: Egypt, Remote Sensing — acagle @ 6:52 pm

Robotic Snakes Slither Their Way Into Ancient Archaeology

To paraphrase REM, the ancient Egyptians were all too familiar with the “horrible asp.”

But not even the most clairvoyant pharaohs could have imagined their kingdoms invaded by robotic snakes.

In arguably an archaeological first, that’s exactly what happened a couple of years back.

That’s when Boston University archaeologist Kathryn Bard and colleagues used a “modular robotic snake” designed and built by Carnegie Mellon University’s robotics lab to do a limited probe of a Middle Kingdom Red Sea cave.

Only one photo of the snake and it’s fairly large. I was hoping for an autonomous kind of thing but it’s tethered.

October 1, 2013

“Archaeologists are some of the few scientists who destroy their own data”

Filed under: Remote Sensing — acagle @ 7:16 pm

Incredible Technology: How Today’s Archaeologists Kick Indiana Jones’ Butt

Indiana Jones may be the best-known fictional archaeologist, but his bullwhip pales in comparison with some of the field’s actual tools. [10 Modern Tools for Indiana Jones]

“I go out and do archaeology with a ray gun,” Frahm told LiveScience, adding, “It doesn’t get more sci-fi than that.”

Frahm and his colleagues have developed a portable version of X-ray fluorescence (XRF), a common technique for determining the chemical makeup of an artifact. Using a kind of “ray gun,” scientists fire X-rays at a sample, boosting the energy of electrons inside the sample, where they emit new X-rays that correspond to specific elements, such as zinc or copper. Art museums use similar techniques to study paintings.

Mostly just a short review of some remote sensing techniques.

September 23, 2013

Archaeology down under over

Filed under: Abandonment, Remote Sensing — acagle @ 6:12 am

Australian archaeologists seek to solve mystery of the lost city of Zagora

BEFORE the first ancient Olympics, as Homer was writing his Iliad, there was a bustling early Iron Age city in Greece. And then it all but disappeared.

Australian archaeologists will try to solve the ancient mystery of why the city was abandoned and whether a lack of fresh water was the cause.
. . .
They are curious about whether hydrology might have something to do with the abandonment of the settlement that had been growing at an extraordinary rate.

“One of the ideas we are investigating is whether there has been an earthquake because the ground rock is layers of schist and marble, and marble can be permeated by water but schist can’t.

“If there was a shifting of the layers because of earthquake the water courses could have been altered and the site that was once able to have water may suddenly run dry.”

That’s a pretty clever idea, although one presumes they don’t need 50 people just to do GPR. . . .

August 27, 2013

I’m back. . . .with an attitude!

Filed under: Remote Sensing — acagle @ 6:54 pm

Errr, not really. Unless you consider “exhausted mentally and physically” an attitude. Gadzooks, what a week and a half! Actually more like a month. But the drywaller finished up today and the basement is starting to look a little habitable once again. So, posting will henceforth resume.

Starting with. . . .drones!
Archaeologists turn to drones in Peru

Archaeologists say drones can help set boundaries to protect sites, watch over them and monitor threats, and create a digital repository of ruins that can help build awareness and aid in the reconstruction of any damage done.

“We see them as a vital tool for conservation,” said Ana Maria Hoyle, an archaeologist with the Culture Ministry.

Hoyle said the government plans to buy several drones to use at different sites, and that the technology will help the ministry comply with a new, business-friendly law that has tightened the deadline for determining whether land slated for development might contain cultural artifacts.

That’s really not a bad article. They should be able to carry lidar equipment in a few years making large scale mapping truly widespread: drive out to your area, send up the drone from the roadside, and have a really accurate topo map in a few hours. I also thought the trouble they have in Peru with the thin air also neat and something you wouldn’t think about.

June 26, 2013

Remote (very!) sensing update

Filed under: Modern artifacts, Remote Sensing — acagle @ 7:09 pm

Not to mention Modern Artifacts: Scientists Search Lunar Landscape for Lost Moon Probes

The moon is the final resting ground for scads of landed and crashed spacecraft, many of which have been pinpointed recently by sleuthing scientists.

Using observations by NASA’s sharp-eyed Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, for example, researchers have located and imaged Apollo moon landing leftovers, old Soviet-era spacecraft and, more recently, the impact locales of NASA’s twin Grail spacecraft that were deliberately driven into a mountain near the moon’s north pole.

A couple of videos at the link, first one not terribly informative though. Actually, I watched two of them and neither had any sound. I vaguely recall some sort of crowd-sourcing project that would have volunteers looking through small patches of hi-res photos of the surface looking for such things? Maybe not. Might be a good idea though. . . .

June 15, 2013

Lost civilization civilization. . .fou. . . .heeeeey

Filed under: Remote Sensing — acagle @ 8:12 am

Lost city of Mahendraparvata discovered in Cambodian jungles

A lost city that thrived on a mist-shrouded Cambodian mountain 1,200 years ago has been discovered by archaeologists using airborne laser technology, the Sydney Morning Herald reported on Saturday in a world exclusive.

Over two dozen temple sites have been discovered on the site, which is thought to have been built around 802 AD when the Angor Empire was founded.

It is believed to be the lost city of Mahendraparvata, located on a misty mountain called Phnom Kulen deep in the hinterland of Cambodia. It was thought to be built 350 years before the famed Angor Wat.

I’m hesitating to link to that site because of the $_)@*^(_@$(@^$ pop up ads which are populous and annoying. But try to read it.

May 13, 2013

Or at least desk chair

Filed under: Remote Sensing — acagle @ 10:06 am

Google Earth fuelling ‘armchair archaeology’

TRADITIONALLY, ARCHAEOLOGY HAS involved a lot of digging through both archives and dirt, as well as being in the right place at the right time. But the last decade has seen the development of a completely new tool, says Dr David Thomas, a pioneer of the field of satellite archaeology.

“The detail in many of the images is astonishing and allows archaeologists to investigate sites without leaving the safety of their offices,” says David, who is from Melbourne’s La Trobe University and gave a talk today on ‘armchair archaeology’ at the Melbourne Museum.

“While this has obvious advantages, it also presents archaeologists with new problems and challenges,” he says.

This has yet to really take off, IMO, even though it’s been used a lot. Once you get the ground-truthing out of the way (difficult in some places) you can really start to apply spatial models to the sites that are discovered. Heck, just counting the mounds in a given area would be enormously helpful, although you’d still need to date them by some means. But doing that — a surface survey of already-located mounds — is way more cost effective than starting out on the ground with a blank slate.

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