Satellite imagery scanning Egypt has uncovered 17 previously unknown pyramids. And if discovering those was not enough, infra-red imagery which can ‘see’ underground has also found over 1,000 tombs and 3,000 settlements in the deserts of Egypt.
The team of researchers from the University of Alabama who conducted the research have been working on it actively for over a year.
The findings convinced the Egyptian authorities of the uses of the technology they were initially skeptical about. They now intend to use it in the future to scan for more ancient artefacts and to monitor the sites already discovered against looters and raiders.
“We can tell from the imagery a tomb was looted from a particular period of time and we can alert Interpol to watch out for antiquities from that time that may be offered for sale,” US Egyptologist Sarah Parcak, who lead the study, told the BBC.
During the Egyptian revolution that ousted ex-President Mubarak, many well-known archeological sites were looted when security forces withdrew. Many artefacts were lost and have yet to be recovered.
Initial ground excavations has already confirmed some of the findings of the satellite scan, validating the relevance of the technology.
The scan has found buildings that were buried close to the surface, but Parcak believes there are thousands of other buildings buried deeper still waiting to be discovered, mainly that were covered with silt from the River Nile.
Last year, researchers used Google Earth satellite images to discover an unusually well-preserved meteorite crater in the Egyptian desert. Satellite imagery is quickly becoming an important tool in exploring remote areas and ‘peaking’ underground.
“Indiana Jones is old school, we’ve moved on from Indy, sorry Harrison Ford,” said Parcak