Friday, September 10, 2010

Reasoning: Technological and Non-Technological Innovations in Archaeology

Although I truly appreciate and love archaeology, it is not my field. Ever since I was a kid I have been watching the wonderful (albeit controversial) British series Time Team. Of course classics as a discipline relies upon archaeology. However, I, in general, am very much a text person and have no idea what the new developments in archaeology are or how to find out.

In the last few weeks, two archaeology-related pieces in the New York Times have caught my attention (both of which I was referred to by my mom).

The first was an incredible piece on new computer technology in archaeology. Apparently, the Getty has set up a system for Jordan (called MEGA), in conjunction with Google Earth, in order to mark on a database and monitor ancient sites:
"These let users find any of Jordan’s more than 10,000 sites, from the ancient city of Petra to tiny unearthed remnants from antiquity, like wine presses, threshing floors and burial grounds dating to the Neolithic period." (see article)
The database functions in both English and Arabic and should help authorities prevent grave robbery and other problems by allowing them to efficiently distribute their resources based on the information.

The system was originally intended for Iraq, where the monitoring is desperately needed, but it was difficult to get the technology there and ensure that it was set up. There are, according to the article, possible plans for expanding to Iraq in the future.

Desert Roads
The second piece that caught my attention focuses on two archaeologists, the Darnells, who worked on the Theban Desert Road Survey. According to the article, this type of surveying focuses on the importance of old caravan trails for finding archaeological remains of settlements. The Darnells discovered a Persian settlement from the 6th century, which lead them to much earlier material:
"Zahi Hawass, secretary general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, said the archaeologists had uncovered extensive remains of a settlement — apparently an administrative, economic and military center — that flourished more than 3,500 years ago in the western desert 110 miles west of Luxor and 300 miles south of Cairo. No such urban center so early in history had ever been found in the forbidding desert." (see article)
The Darnells say in the article that this provides an explanation for the rise of Thebes as an important center in Egypt.
A picture from the NY Times of the bakery at the dig site

No comments:

Post a Comment