Seventeen previously undiscovered Egyptian pyramids as well as 1,000 tombs and 3,000 settlements were spotted thanks to new infra-red technology that detects shapes lurking out of sight. Cameras attached to satellites hovering seven hundred kilometers above the earth can zoom in on objects less than one meter in diameter.
Because these dwellings are built from mud brick, they form a clear indentation against the surrounding soil, making them easy to spot using the technology.
US Egyptologist Dr Sarah Parcack at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, who is leading this project, is excited by the immediacy the technology brings to the research front. Uncovering hidden structures is no longer a labor intensive process involving hours and hours of digging.
Not only will this technology bring in more scientists to this field, since the process is now more accessible than ever, but it widens the scope and ambition of pyramid research. The images can pick up evidence of looting around the sites, thus making it easier to recover stolen artifacts and to prevent such acts from occurring in the future.
Parcack embraces the changes on the research front that infra-red technology brings.
“Indiana Jones is old school, we’ve moved on from Indy,” she said. “Sorry Harrison Ford.”
Image by Yasin Hassan on Flickr courtesy of Creative Commons Licensing