Thursday, March 22, 2012

Googling the past: How I uncovered prehistoric remains from my office

Archaeology is the study of the remains of the past but has long been predatory on the sciences and their ever-growing technologies. I was brought up as a student in 1970s Britain, when we learned of the wonderful revelations to be made through aerial viewing of almost any human landscape.

Today we have moved on to add, first, satellite imagery to our arsenal, and now the astonishing virtual globes any one of us can use to explore many of the most remote and difficult places in the world. This was never clearer to me than during the past two years, when I began finding thousands of prehistoric sites in the Middle East … from my desk in Perth, Australia, using Google Earth.

Archaeology from the air

Aerial reconnaissance for archaeology – Aerial Archaeology – has been an indispensable part of fieldwork in most of north-western Europe for decades. Hundreds of flights are dedicated annually to archaeology, which provide access to millions of aerial photographs. It would not be overstating it to say this technique has been transformational for the discipline.

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