Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

New Atlas to Reveal Landscape and Undiscovered Archeological Sites in 3-D

01.10.2008
New methods developed at the University of Arkansas will make decades-old satellite imagery readily available to archeologists and others who need to know what a landscape looked like before the spread of cities and agriculture. For the first time, archeologists can see three-dimensional views of the landscape of the Middle East from 40 years ago.

With a $338,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities and an award from the American Council of Learned Societies, Jesse Casana and Jackson Cothren will develop an archeological atlas of the Middle East that can easily be used with contemporary mapping applications to pinpoint locations.

In the current issue of Antiquity, Casana, an archeologist who focuses on the Middle East, and Cothren, a geoscientist specializing in geomatics, have published an account of the methods and examples of their work. Geomatics is the art, science and technologies related to the management of geographically referenced information including such areas as geographic information systems, remote sensing, cartography and surveying.

Using declassified images from a government satellite program called CORONA, the researchers are working with high-resolution digital scans distributed by the U.S. Geological Survey of film that was shot between 1967 and 1972. CORONA images from the final years of the program were taken with two cameras simultaneously.

“Our relatively straightforward methods produce robust results that offer powerful new perspectives on individual sites, larger archeological features and the landscapes in which they are situated,” the researchers wrote.

Because Cothren and Casana correct the images so precisely, it is possible to use 3-D glasses for a particularly vivid view of features on the landscape.

What’s more, they wrote, “The ease with which these methods can be applied and the low cost of doing so opens the possibility for the application of these techniques across large regions and in areas with little or no modern ground control.”

Looking at the ground from above can be a powerful way of finding archeological sites and identifying ancient roads, fields and canals, but until now, there were drawbacks to using modern satellite images. For one, while contemporary satellite images are of good quality, over the past 40 years in the Middle East in particular, expanding cities and agriculture have destroyed or obscured much of the archeological record. Casana estimates that there are hundreds, perhaps thousands, of unrecorded sites under reservoirs or beneath cities.

“The sites just appear much more clearly on the old imagery,” Casana said. “You can look at this beautiful new imagery, but if a site is at the bottom of a reservoir, you’re really not going to see it. This old imagery is an irreplaceable resource for archeologists because it preserves a picture of things that were visible 40 years ago.”

Another drawback has been the distortion present in the old imagery. The original images were shot using a panoramic camera that produces a bowtie-shaped distortion that is not easily corrected and prevents the imagery from being used to accurately map sites or other features.

By modifying a mathematical model developed at The Ohio State University, Cothren developed an algorithm to correct the bowtie distortion so that each pixel now has a latitude and longitude associated with it, information that can be loaded into a GPS device. The corrected images are accurate to within about 10 meters. Once corrected, the imagery will be accessible to researchers through an online atlas that will coordinate with contemporary map applications such as GoogleEarth, layering the old over the new.

“The idea behind this project was to take an incredible resource that everyone wants – but in its current format is virtually impossible to use – and to make it easily accessible,” Casana said. “It’s amazing for archeology in the Middle East. You can take your GPS, go directly to a site that is visible on the image, and map it accurately.”

Casana will give the imagery a work out next year. He will use the imagery to locate and map archeological sites on his field project in western Syria. In a place that has been occupied as long as the Middle East, there will be many sites from many eras.

“There will be hundreds of sites within that area,” Casana said. “The big sites, like Roman ruins or castles, we already know about. But most of the sites, the smaller ones, have never even been discovered.”

Cothren estimates that there are several hundred gigabytes of CORONA data to work with, and it will all be corrected for both spatial and topographic distortions. According to Casana, the goal is to make “a perfect map” that presents accurate locations and heights within 10 meters for sites and features such as roads and canals. The resulting atlas will be available on a server hosted by the University of Arkansas’ Center for Advanced Spatial Technologies (CAST).

“Our hope is that it becomes a central resource for archeologists and others, like geographers, for looking at the growth of towns and cities or the movement of rivers or changes in agricultural strategies,” Casana said.

Casana is an assistant professor of anthropology and Cothren is an assistant professor of geography and researcher with CAST. CAST and the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Arkansas provided additional funding for the research.

Their article, titled “Stereo Analysis, DEM Extraction and Orthorectification of CORONA Satellite Imagery: Archaeological Applications From the Near East,” appeared in the September issue of Antiquity.

CONTACT:

Jesse Casana, assistant professor, anthropology
J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences
479-575-6374, jcasana@uark.edu
Jackson Cothren, assistant professor, geography
J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences
479-575-6790, jcothre@uark.edu

Barbara Jaquish | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.uark.edu

More articles from Information Technology:

nachricht Smart Computers
21.08.2017 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

nachricht AI implications: Engineer's model lays groundwork for machine-learning device
18.08.2017 | Washington University in St. Louis

All articles from Information Technology >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Fizzy soda water could be key to clean manufacture of flat wonder material: Graphene

Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.

As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...

Im Focus: Exotic quantum states made from light: Physicists create optical “wells” for a super-photon

Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.

Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...

Im Focus: Circular RNA linked to brain function

For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.

While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...

Im Focus: RAVAN CubeSat measures Earth's outgoing energy

An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.

The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...

Im Focus: Scientists shine new light on the “other high temperature superconductor”

A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Call for Papers – ICNFT 2018, 5th International Conference on New Forming Technology

16.08.2017 | Event News

Sustainability is the business model of tomorrow

04.08.2017 | Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Nagoya physicists resolve long-standing mystery of structure-less transition

21.08.2017 | Materials Sciences

Chronic stress induces fatal organ dysfunctions via a new neural circuit

21.08.2017 | Health and Medicine

Scientists from the MSU studied new liquid-crystalline photochrom

21.08.2017 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>