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Satellite imagery as a resource in the prospection for archaeological sites in central Syria.

Wilkinson, K. W. and Beck, A. R. and Philip, G. (2006) 'Satellite imagery as a resource in the prospection for archaeological sites in central Syria.', Geoarchaeology., 21 (7). pp. 735-750.


Both IKONOS and CORONA satellite imagery are currently being employed by the research project Settlement and Landscape Development in the Homs Region, Syria, as the primary deskbased means of detecting non-tell archaeological sites, a category that has generally been underrepresented in traditional tell-centered surveys in the Middle East. Satellite imagery provides a highly effective means of prospecting for ancient settlement remains on the marl geologies of the project's Southern Study Area. The recent intense agricultural development of the area and a largely erosive landscape history since the Bronze Age mean that ancient settlements survive as lags in the present soils that display either highly reflective or (more rarely) absorptive signatures in the imagery. As a result, many previously unknown archaeological sites have been detected by the project. Laboratory analysis of transects of samples taken across four sites detected in the satellite imagery suggests that the reflectance/absorption spectra of the archaeological sites is largely a product of the grain-size variations that result from occupation activities; geochemical and magnetic properties play a lesser role. The grain-size properties of the site locations are likely to reflect the decomposition of mud-brick, the dominant building material in the area for much of the past.

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Record Created:14 Oct 2008
Last Modified:08 Apr 2009 16:39

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