Archive for January 8th, 2008

Who needs Indy when you’ve got Google Earth?

Tuesday, January 8th, 2008

Ever since computer programmer Luca Mori discovered a Roman villa in his hometown using Google Earth, archaeological surveys are becoming more of a telecommuting gig than a through-the-jungle-with-a-machete gig: Satellites build a picture of the past.

American archaeologist Scott Madry, Associate Professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, stumbled across a newspaper covering Mori’s story. Madry had been professionally surveying archaeological sites for more than 25 years, becoming frustrated with the inefficient, dangerous and somewhat inaccurate method of aerial surveying.

Within a few hours on Google Earth, Madry was able to locate 101 features in an area covering 1,440 square kilometres in Central France. These features represented Iron Age, Medieval and Gallo-Roman sites.

Aerial surveying is expensive as hell, too. Not only are planes expensive, but even a single high resolution satellite image can cost thens of thousands of dollars. Google Earth is free.

P.S. – NASA has an archaeologist. Who knew?

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