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Ground-based geophysical methods have also been employed in Maya research. The GPR research has detected buried causeways and structures that might have otherwise gone unnoticed. One of Sever's research goals is understanding the comparatively sudden decline of many Maya centers in the central Lowlands region by the end of the 1st millennium CE , a happenstance often referred to as the " Classic Maya collapse ". Sever's research on communication and transportation systems points to an extensive societal infrastructure capable of supporting the building and maintenance of the causeways and roadways.

Using satellite imagery , researchers have been able to map canals and reservoirs. These offer a glimpse into Maya cultural adaptations during the period of their highest population density. At the height of the classic period, the population in the Maya lowlands was - people per square mile in rural areas, and even more in urban regions.

Satellite Remote Sensing, A New Tool for Archaeology by Rosa Lasaponara | | Booktopia

This far outweighs the carrying capacity for this region, but this follows centuries of successful adaptation. Other data shows that by the end of the classic period, the Maya had already depleted much of the rain forest. By detecting deforestation rates and trends can help us to understand how these same processes affected the Maya.

An important contribution to the study of Maya has been provided by LiDAR thanks to its ability to penetrate dense tropical canopies.


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LiDAR has been applied to the site of Caracol, Belize in , revealing an impressive monumental complex covered by jungle. In Peru, an Italian scientific mission of CNR, directed by Nicola Masini , provided important results by using satellite imagery for both site discovery and the protection of archaeological heritage. In particular, by processing QuickBird images a large buried settlement, including a pyramid, in the Nasca riverbed Southern Peru , near the Ceremonial Center of Cahuachi , has been detected.

Iram of the Pillars is a lost city or region surrounding the lost city on the Arabian Peninsula. In the early s a group of researchers interested in the history of Iram used NASA remote sensing satellites, ground penetrating radar , Landsat program data and images taken from the Space Shuttle Challenger as well as SPOT data to identify old camel train routes and points where they converged.

These roads were used as frankincense trade routes around BC to BC. One area in the Dhofar province of Oman was identified as a possible location for an outpost of the lost civilization.

Towards a new landscape archaeology?

A team including adventurer Ranulph Fiennes , archaeologist Juris Zarins , filmmaker Nicholas Clapp , and lawyer George Hedges , scouted the area on several trips, and stopped at a water well called Ash Shisar. Excavations uncovered an older settlement, and artifacts traded from far and wide were found. This older fort was found to have been built on top of a large limestone cavern which would have served as the water source for the fort, making it an important oasis on the trade route to Iram.

As the residents of the fort consumed the water from underground, the water table fell, leaving the limestone roof and walls of the cavern dry. Without the support of the water, the cavern would have been in danger of collapse, and it seems to have done so some time between AD, destroying the oasis and covering over the water source.

Four subsequent excavations were conducted by Dr. Juris Zarins , tracing the historical presence by the people of 'Ad, the assumed ancestral builders of Iram. Archaeologist Dr Sarah Parcak uses satellites to search for sub-surface remains, as described in her TED Talk on the subject of space archaeology and uses of citizen science. But as useful as aerial photographs are, they have their limitations: namely, airplanes can fly only so high and human eyes can see only so much.

There's a lot of information out there that our eyes just can't see. Called Landsat-1, the satellite sent back images of an earth no one had ever seen before. Reading visible light, as well as the infrared bands of the electromagnetic spectrum, Landsat revealed a psychedelic world of magenta vegetation, black water and gold forests.

It also showed pollution off the coast of New Jersey, unmapped lakes in Iran and additional branches of the San Andreas fault. Unlike Landsat 1, which used reflected sunlight to make an image, SIR-A sent out its own radar signal and then "listened" to the echo.

Satellite Remote Sensing: A New Tool for Archaeology / Edition 1

No one was quite prepared for the images that came back. In order to set up a list of libraries that you have access to, you must first login or sign up.


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To include a comma in your tag, surround the tag with double quotes. Please enable cookies in your browser to get the full Trove experience. Skip to content Skip to search. Other Authors Lasaponara, Rosa, editor.

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Masini, Nicola, , editor. Series Remote sensing and digital image processing, ; volume 16 Subjects Imaging systems in archaeology.

Archaeology -- Fieldwork. Remote-sensing images. Archaeology -- Remote sensing. Archaeology -- Remote sensing -- Case studies.