Touch-Free Archaeology Reveals History With Lasers, Drones

Apr 12, 2015

ILLUSTRATION BY 7REASONS MEDIEN GMBH

By Katharine Gammon

It seems counterintuitive, but sometimes archaeologists can learn more bynot digging up the past. In fact, noninvasive methods—including lasers, ground-penetrating radar, and drone photography—are changing the way they do their work.

One of the latest examples: a project at Ammaia, in southern Portugal, where researchers have been able to create detailed, three-dimensional illustrations of a now-underground Roman village in its heyday.

Data from the site show that the town flourished in the first century A.D.—at its peak it was home to more than 2,000 inhabitants—but gradually declined in the fourth century. By the Middle Ages it was abandoned.

Using a variety of noninvasive techniques, an international team ofresearchers has been able to identify different phases of the town’s construction, from Augustan times onward.

The result? A first-of-its-kind video of what a walk through the town would have looked like, stitched together via different kinds of data.


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2 comments on “Touch-Free Archaeology Reveals History With Lasers, Drones

  • @OP – One of the latest examples: a project at Ammaia, in southern Portugal, where researchers have been able to create detailed, three-dimensional illustrations of a now-underground Roman village in its heyday.

    There have been huge advances in geophysical and satellite infra-red survey techniques.

    Masses of ancient remains have been also found in Egypt.

    http://sciblogs.co.nz/digging-the-dirt/2011/05/28/space-archaeology-and-the-discovery-of-buried-egypt/
    To cover it succinctly, the main points of the story are:

    That 17 new pyramids and 3,000 new sites have been
    identified by infrared technology, captured from satellites.
    That 1,000 tombs have been identified.
    That infra red cameras can detect and record objects or
    features less than a metre in size.
    That we now have the technology to accurately identify and
    map buried archaeological settlements, across large areas.
    That we now have the technology to monitor, assess and
    protect archaeology from space, with high precision.



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