Introduction to Aerial Archaeology

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Common perceptions see aerial archaeology as an archaeologist sitting in a plane taking pictures of sites. This perception is partially true. However, it is more than just taking photographs. Yes, photography is its prime subject, but it is more than just photography. It is the use of several forms of picture prints to examine specific sites.

Aerial archaeology uses photographs as its main tool for gathering data. However, the science also uses satellite imaging, thermal imaging, and airborne radar imaging to gather data. To act upon aerial archaeology is to make sense of remotely obtained data.

Aerial archaeology uses distant view to obtain and analyze data. An archaeological site shows up on the surface. This all relies on the nature of the site, the contrasts of light and shadows on the site, differences in the soil, and differences in the vegetation in the site area. It is through these differences that communities, cemeteries, and buildings are identified when analyzing data.

Many archaeological sites are in danger of destruction. The remains of history are fading fast. Yet, there are still undiscovered sites buried underneath the soils of our planet. Several of these sites may be in bad condition because of the evolution of farming, industry, and the use of natural resources. In order to prevent this, aerial archaeology is used to find these sites.

Through aerial archaeology, an archaeologist is able to find, pinpoint, and map the site. It is his or her mission to protect or extract much of the hidden information. Their deadline is the final destruction of the site.

Yet, aerial archaeology does have its disadvantages. The soil type, climate, flight conditions, and vegetation can affect how much information is visibly gathered. Another is the type of technology that may be used to gather the information before it is analyzed. The better the picture or the image the better the data.

Aerial archaeology is one of the oldest forms of archaeological method. It is very useful in providing several forms of data. It is also cheap because a large area is covered in a small amount of time. The photographs are used for analyzing and reporting data. It gives an easier tool for understanding the data found at specific sites.

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