Can Drones Revolutionize Archaeology? “Archaeologists are increasingly discovering that the best way to find out what is hidden below the ground is to take to the skies. According to an article in the May 2014 issue of the Journal of Archaeological Science, researchers last summer employed a pilotless aircraft to learn more about an ancient village that lurks beneath the layers of dusty soil and sagebrush of remote northwestern New Mexico.”
Not just visually, but with other wavelengths as well.
Archaeologists use drones to map New Mexico site
Recently published research describes how archaeologists outfitted a customized drone with a heat-sensing camera to unearth what they believe are ceremonial pits and other features at the site of an ancient village in New Mexico.
The discovery of the structures hidden beneath layers of sediment and sagebrush is being hailed as an important step that could help archaeologists shed light on mysteries long buried by eroding desert landscapes from the American Southwest to the Middle East. The results of the research were published earlier this month in the Journal of Archaeological Science.
Since the 1970s, archaeologists have known that aerial images of thermal infrared wavelengths of light could be a powerful tool for spotting cultural remains on the ground. But few have had access to million-dollar satellites, and helicopters and planes have their limits.
I’ve actually been wondering if this could be used around here — Pacific NW — along the coastline to locate shell midden. I’d guess most of it was probably already located since most of the shoreline has been heavily surveyed. But you never know.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. . . .
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.
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. . . .