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"Space Archeology" Uncovers Lost Pyramids 156

Posted by samzenpus
from the goodbye-mr.-jones dept.
krou writes "A new technique dubbed 'space archeology' using satellites and infra-red imaging has helped uncover 17 new pyramids in Egypt, as well as some 1,000 tombs, and 3,000 ancient settlements. The mud bricks used to build Egyptian structures means it has a different density to the surrounding soil, and thus shows up in the images. Dr Sarah Parcak, who pioneered the technique, said that 'Indiana Jones is old school, we've moved on from Indy, sorry Harrison Ford.'"
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"Space Archeology" Uncovers Lost Pyramids

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  • by oztiks (921504) on Thursday May 26, 2011 @03:23AM (#36248022)

    should be goodbye-dr.-jones dept

    • by mjwx (966435) on Thursday May 26, 2011 @03:30AM (#36248044)

      should be goodbye-dr.-jones dept

      He belongs in a museum.

    • by L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) on Thursday May 26, 2011 @03:46AM (#36248104)
      You think that's the worst mistake in the article? If you were ever exposed to "Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" you'll already know that Dr. Jones is well up on his "space archaeology" already.

      If anything this is another instance of life imitating art, even if it is some of the most atrocious "art" you've ever had the misfortune to witness.
      • by jo_ham (604554)

        I'm not sure what was worse: shoehorning Shia LeBoef into it, in a manner that can only be described as "high school play-quality" acting, the "super magnetic bones" or that we've displaced "jumped the shark" with "nuked the fridge" as a comment.

        Indiana Jones always had an element of the supernatural about it - look at some of the key plot elements in Temple of Doom, and especially Last Crusade, so aliens are not an enormous stretch away from the norm. I can stay engaged in the story if it's presented in a

        • by Jason Levine (196982) on Thursday May 26, 2011 @08:49AM (#36249480)

          I still think the fridge scene would make for a great Mythbusters episode. Obviously, they can't detonate a nuclear device (Jamie want BIIIIIIIG boom!), but they could put Buster with some shock discs in a fridge and drop it from the approximate height that Indy fell to simulate how much he'd have been hurt from the fall. They could also go back to the place that they ran the "Cockroaches survive nuclear bomb" experiment and put the fridge in the chamber with some equipment inside to test for radiation. Of course, the finale would be burying some explosive (C4?) under the fridge with shock-disc-enabled Buster inside and blowing the whole thing up.

          I'm pretty sure the whole scene would be Busted, but it would turn that awful scene into something that was actually fun to watch!

        • by Boronx (228853)

          The fridge scene is great. The Nazis run all over the world looking for a couple of ancient weapons of mass destruction out of legend, meanwhile the Americans are pumping them out on assembly lines.

          Lucas and Spielberg were poking fun at the Indy franchise. So what if Hitler had got the Ark of the Covenant? We'd just drop a nuke on it.

      • You think that's the worst mistake in the article? If you were ever exposed to "Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" you'll already know that Dr. Jones is well up on his "space archaeology" already. witness.

        Ugh, they should've just made The Fate Of Atlantis into a movie instead of making that turd. Friggin' Lucas can't stop ruining perfectly good trilogies.

      • by onepoint (301486)

        Well, "space archaeology" has been around a while. I recall national geographic speaking about it back in the late 80's when talking about finding Mayan ruins. I also recall it being mentioned as far back as early 80's when used in passing about some straight lines that are man made, carved and marked from Mexico into the USA, Some sort of walking journey and they discovered more of these lines that people could walk.

        it's also been useful in finding old settlements where rivers once existed

    • by Canazza (1428553)

      Well, they may have moved away from Indiana Jones, but they've moved on to Han Solo.

    • by gilleain (1310105)
      Und zis is how ve say gutbye in Germany, Dr Jones!
    • by physburn (1095481)
      Dr Daniel Jackson, would be very at home though. I the did still need spades to dig them up somewhere down the line though.
    • by elrous0 (869638) *

      Yes, I've had it with people not showing proper respect for a fictional doctorate.

  • New? Hardly. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by DerekLyons (302214)

    Dr Sarah Parcak should study her history - because she's "pioneered" a technique first used in the 30's from aircraft and more recently from any number of orbital platforms.

    • by Elledan (582730)
      Even if it isn't entirely new, it's been used very effectively here, with the uncovering of so much archaeological material to study it'll keep archaeologists occupied for decades. And this was just the first run. I'm very excited about what else will be uncovered, now that someone finally bothered to use this methode, be it old or new.
    • Re:New? Hardly. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by jamesh (87723) on Thursday May 26, 2011 @05:40AM (#36248458)

      So... the technology has existed for 80 years and yet she and her team are the ones who are finding the pyramids? I think they deserve just a little kudos... i'm betting that they had to do a bit of work to make the technology be able to find the pyramids they found.

      • by Abstrackt (609015)

        I agree. They found something that wasn't known to them before, the fact that it's not brand new technology shouldn't detract from that accomplishment. Even if the extent of the work was just saying "hey, let's use those satellites to look for pyramids!" and spending years filling out all the requisite paperwork I'd still be impressed.

      • In Saudi Arabia, and most of the middle east, it has prohibited the use of aerial photography which includes satalite based version. To enforce this they just don't issue the archaeology licences to people who do this. That however doesn't stop someone else from using google earth to do it. http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-501465_162-20032043-501465.html [cbsnews.com] I suspect part of this is because of the change of government in Egypt which has allowed this type of research to slip though.
      • 80 years? Pfff...

        The ancient Egyptians knew they were there thousands of years ago, they must be smarter than you and Dr. Parcak put together.

        • In case it didn't come off as so, that was a joke, by the way. It's probably not obvious, but I agree with you.
    • Re:New? Hardly. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by pnot (96038) on Thursday May 26, 2011 @05:58AM (#36248572)

      Dr Sarah Parcak should study her history - because she's "pioneered" a technique first used in the 30's from aircraft and more recently from any number of orbital platforms.

      Absolutely! She should, for example, read the 28-page historical introduction and 32-page bibliography of the excellent book Satellite remote sensing for archaeology by... oh look, it's by Dr Sarah Parcak. Turns out she literally wrote the book on this stuff. Seriously, do you think she's spent a scientific career doing this work without bothering to check what's been done before? If someone is a "Dr", they have written a doctoral dissertation, which means they know how to review literature.

      Yes, the BBC article (not the researcher) used the word "pioneered". I imagine there must be some pioneering about work that located several thousand hitherto unknown structures and seventeen pyramids. (If it's all old hat, why didn't someone find them "in the 30's from aircraft?") Even if it's not "pioneering", the fault is with the reporter who chose to use that word.

      Sure-fire recipe for a snarky Slashdot reply: if it's successful work building on previous accomplishments, say "huh, that's not new, she's just repeating what someone else did". If it's groundbreaking work previously unachieved by anyone else, say "huh, that's just ivory-tower tinkering, nobody's replicated it and it'll never work in the real world".

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        Sure-fire recipe for a snarky Slashdot reply: if it's successful work building on previous accomplishments, say "huh, that's not new, she's just repeating what someone else did". If it's groundbreaking work previously unachieved by anyone else, say "huh, that's just ivory-tower tinkering, nobody's replicated it and it'll never work in the real world".

        Other people have pointed that out in a much better way.

        (You knew that was coming, right?)

      • by ildon (413912)

        I thought I'd heard something about this before on a TV documentary a while ago, but with Mayan ruins. I found a link [nasa.gov]. Now I'm not saying she didn't pioneer the technique or whatever, since apparently she's been working on stuff like this since at least 2004, but it seems to me like these people should work together (if they're not already).

      • Oh, is she like the Ph.D's at my mom's work? The ones who send her email worms, chain letters, and forwarded hoaxes?
    • There have been other discoveries of significance. For example, Israeli scientists used satellite imagery to find a canal that figures in the story of the Exodus. The canal runs from Lake Balah to Lake Timsah, and was probably built as a military earthwork. According to the scientists, the south end of Lake Timsah qualifies today for the name "Yam Suf" (Sea of Reeds, the place name often erroneously translated as "Red Sea") and the place where pharoah's army was destroyed is Pi Hachirot, literally "mouth

      • by StikyPad (445176)

        Israeli scientists used satellite imagery to find a canal that figures in the story of the Exodus.

        With the minor caveat that there's no evidence that Isrealites were ever enslaved in Egypt en masse, making the whole thing rather moot (as if the supernatural parting of waters wasn't reason enough). Trying to match a fictional account with historical landmarks is little different than repurposing our telescopes to search for Pandora which, I feel I should mention, would be ridiculous.

        • There is very good evidence that the Israelites were in Egypt. Many of their names are Egyptian. There are also Egyptian descriptions of the plagues and of the destruction of pharoah's army. See http://jbq.jewishbible.org/assets/Uploads/363/363_dayenufinal.pdf [jewishbible.org] for details.

          • by StikyPad (445176)

            From a secular perspective, the historicity of the Bible is only relevant inasmuch as it provides an accurate description of events, which it clearly does not. There are chronological, archeological, logistical, and of course, physical issues which contradict available evidence. The Bible lacks both specificity and contemporaneousness; it tells us not about the historical lives of people in the late Iron Age, but about a (likely substantially) imagined history of those people which, at best, must have suf

            • The Bible is compiled from a variety of materials. Some do indeed provide as accurate a description of events as is possible, given that parts of the material likely represent oral traditions handed down and later committed to writing. Of course, all history is written from a perspective and all documents, ancient and modern, are written for a purpose that may not have historical accuracy as a major priority.

              Some parts of the Bible are legal and ethical in nature, others are writings regarded as having ph

            • by Quirkz (1206400)
              +1 : well said
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Stargate Command had this covered years ago. Nothing new.

  • Jaffa... KREE.
  • Real archaeology (Score:4, Informative)

    by fremsley471 (792813) on Thursday May 26, 2011 @03:38AM (#36248072)

    Talk about old and buried- NASA Archeological Remote Sensing. [nasa.gov] Adobe PageMill 2.0!

    • by johnjaydk (584895)
      Adobe PageMill 2.0 puts it after 1997.
      • Yeah, I know, I read the wikipedia entry too- wasn't expecting it to pre-date the lost pyramids.

        Still, it's 14 years old and still makes Google's front page. That says a lot about either the high-value of the site's contents or how low are the prospects for new discoveries in space archaeology.

    • by theolein (316044)

      The ironic thing about that page is that it's about 90% more legible than the crap that web 2.0 and html 5 brought us.

  • my deep space radar telemetry studies?

  • by Jaro (4361)

    So when will we finally find the place Mr. Jones missed on his quests for the Holy Grail?

  • If only we could use similar technology to uncover new satellites and infrared imaging gear in outer space, think of the money we could save on rocket fuel.
  • by lewko (195646) on Thursday May 26, 2011 @04:24AM (#36248234) Homepage

    She won't be so smug when Mola Ram is trying to rip her heart out or she awakens Imhotep and people like Indiana Jones and Rick O'Connell have been put out of a job.

  • 'Indiana Jones is old school, we've moved on from Indy, sorry Harrison Ford.'

    I'm calling bullshit on this. Once the sites have been pinpointed from space someone still has to go in and do the dirty work. If fact, it sounds like the ideal sequel:

    'Dr Jones, you probably heard we've located a previously unknown ancient settlement using satellite technology. However, what you probably haven't heard is that this settlement displays a very unusual feature that has completely flummoxed our scientists...'
    • That's called "Alien vs. Predator".

          OG.

    • by gilleain (1310105)

      In fact, it sounds like the ideal sequel: 'Dr Jones, you probably heard we've located a previously unknown ancient settlement using satellite technology. However, what you probably haven't heard is that this settlement displays a very unusual feature that has completely flummoxed our scientists...'

      This is basically the plot of Aliens vs Predators. Space telescope finds a pyramid under the ice of Antartica. It's radiating heat because a reactor inside has started up to warm an Alien queen.

      Although you could argue that is all just the plot of "At The Mountains of Madness" by that terrible racist Lovecraft. Alien city at the polar region, age-old battles between horrors from beyond the stars, and so forth.

      • "Aliens vs. Predator" had a plot? I don't think I can bring myself to try watching it again, so I'll only have your word for it. So... are you sure? This isn't one of those cognitive dissonance things where you expected one thing, saw something else, so your mind collaborated a new version of reality to make everything make sense again?
    • 'Indiana Jones is old school, we've moved on from Indy, sorry Harrison Ford.'

        I'm calling bullshit on this. Once the sites have been pinpointed from space someone still has to go in and do the dirty work

      You mean, go in and steal the artifacts?

      • You mean, go in and steal the artifacts?

        One could conceivably argue that this is indeed what happens sometimes. Though theoretically it happens less now than in the past. At least when reputable scientists are involved. There's still plenty of unscrupulous looting anywhere you find things of archaeological interest, but it's generally more for business than science.

  • Ancient structures have been detected from space for at least thirty years. Techniques may improve but this has been going on for quite some time. There is nothing new about it.

    • This particular discovery is new. If you're more interested in new techniques than discoveries, I can see how this would bore you. Otherwise, I think it's rather exciting. Particularly because this discovery will likely be adding to humankind's store of knowledge for a very long time. I look forward to see what happens with it.
    • by AJWM (19027)

      Heh, I first misread this as "Alien structures have been detected from space".

      But then I am in the middle of working on a sequel to "Stone Age" in the June issue of Analog.

  • I patented the technique of finding pyramids from space years ago! Time to sue them for damages.

  • A satellite detected an object under the sands of the Great Desert. An expedition was sent...
  • I think that it's the use of the satellite to see under sand which distinguishes it. Since reading about the history of deforestation, e.g. how Turkey had been covered with sequoia-sized trees, I've wondered if all deserts (like the Sahara) have human civilization as a contributor or cause. It will be interesting to see if they find ancient cities in places we don't know about, buried in the Sahara, the Gobi, Arizona...
  • I'm currently reading the book Sky Walking by astronaut Tom Jones, who relates, among other mission details and adventures, some of the scientific experiments performed by his crew on the Space Shuttle during the early 1990s. In his book, Mr. Jones talks about how they used a new satellite radar imaging systems to not only measure and map the entire Earth, but as an archeology tool to uncover old ruins and buried landmarks.

    If this is the same, it's been going on for at least 15 years.

  • Slightly off topic but related to the technology and all that.

    I often imagine archaeologists 300 years in the future angry because they're able to put a couple of little probes in the ground, run some quick scans, collect every conceivable iota of data on what's in the ground and how it got there, and then use computers to generate simulations of the entire history of the location with amazing accuracy.... well they would be able to .... if 20th-21st century archaeologists hadn't dug everything up thinki
    • A lot of that stuff would further decay, be disturbed by land development or natural disasters and just get looted in those 300 years. Besides how would the science advance if we're not out in the field, better to do the best we can to save what we can find.

    • by Punko (784684)
      Many new finds will have portions of the find left unexcavated/unopened for the explicit reason that better techniques may be available in the future, so they leave them alone until then.
  • The choices are:

    1. Conspiracy theorists who get this wrong and claim that these artifacts were found on another moon or satellite.

    2. Conspiracy theorists who get it right, but claim that things were found which have been hushed up because scientists "can't explain them."

    Bets are on which ones will get more air time. Who's in?

    My money's on the second. The first might have some initial popularity, but that will wane quickly as corrections are hastily issued. Then the second will take hold for the
  • by Chas (5144) on Thursday May 26, 2011 @09:06AM (#36249626) Homepage Journal

    Because she'd look silly in a fedora and she can't handle a whip.

    • by tnk1 (899206)

      Because she'd look silly in a fedora and she can't handle a whip.

      So how, in God's name, did she get her Archaeology degree?

      Next thing you'll tell me, there's no ancient temples with death traps and golden idols, just pottery shards and building foundations that have to be excavated with toothbrushes!

  • Awesome to hear that there might be even more treasure from our past which could bring us one step closer to really knowing where we all came from....

  • indiana jones had a gem that could turn regular sunlight into a bright ruby laser and pinpoint hidden artifacts on a miniature city made of legos

  • I wonder how much progress is being made on using similar technologies for detecting buried landmines so they can be safely removed.
  • Archeologists used balloons as early as 1870s to photograph hidden topography in landscapes.

    The really novelty is so much public domain satellite imagery that anyone look for hidden structures.
  • Am I the only one who searched for Homeworld intro [youtu.be] when I read this?

  • I didn't RTFA, but this sounds very similar to what has been used to find ruins, I think Mayan ruins, that have been covered up by jungle.

    It was covered in a PBS show, I think a Nova episode.

  • If someone wanted to do a real life Space Age Indiana Jones documentary, they should check out the life and times of Dr. Tom Sever, of NASA. I was lucky enough to sit in on some informal debriefs, after he had returned from jungle adventures in the 80's and 90's. He discovered "lost" cities using satellite imagery, and managed to stay one step ahead of treasure hunters and guerillas - most of the time. One technique used was to detect foot paths from hundreds to thousands of years ago that all came togeth

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