One of many remote sensing application for detecting archaeology

TED Blog

gizaplateau Probably the most famous pyramids in the world… those at Giza, near Cairo, shown here in a high resolution satellite image. By studying such images, archaeologists can be very precise about on-the-ground research, saving both time and money.

Strange as it may seem, archaeologists often look to the sky to discover sites buried deep beneath the earth. Space archaeology, as it’s called, refers to the use of high-resolution satellite imaging and lasers to map and model everything from hidden Mayan ruins in Central America to specific features on the ancient Silk Road trade route in Central Asia. The process saves research teams years it would have taken to do the same work using ground-based survey techniques.

Archaeologist, Egyptologist, University of Alabama at Birmingham professor and TED Fellow Sarah Parcak makes extensive use of this technology in her work, and she has done much to popularize space archaeology. She wrote the

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