Archaeology … in SPAAAAACE!

Actually, it’s archaeology from space, but I couldn’t resist a Muppets reference. Satellite data is becoming an essential tool for archaeology, as the widespread availability of improved imaging allows researchers to identify areas of formerhuman habitation that cannot be seen from the ground:

Beyond the impressive mounds of earth, known as tells in Arabic, that mark lost cities, researchers have found a way to give archaeologists a broader perspective of the ancient landscape. By combining spy-satellite photos obtained in the 1960s with modern multispectral images and digital maps of Earth’s surface, the researchers have created a new method for mapping large-scale patterns of human settlement. The approach, used to map some 14,000 settlement sites spanning eight millennia in 23,000 square kilometres of northeastern Syria, is published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Most of these will not turn out to be significant sites, but they do point to an undeniable fact: we’ve barely scratched the surface in our understanding of human history. Many mysteries remain unsolved.

Try to keep that in mind when some skeptic says, “there’s no proof” of whatever Biblical event they’re currently attempting to debunk. Until Hugo Winckler’s 1906 discovery of the lost city of Hattusa in Boğazkale, Turkey, there was no proof at all that the Hittite people even existed, except for the Bible. A hundred years later, no one questions the existence of the Hittites.

We like to think we’re seeing everything there is to see and knowing all there is to know. Not even close. Our ignorance is profound, yet we mistake it for wisdom. Men always feel they have reached the summit of knowledge from their current position. Give it 50 years: there will be a whole new summit, and our current “settled science” will appear foolish.

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About Thomas L. McDonald

Thomas L. McDonald writes about technology, theology, history, games, and shiny things. Details of his rather uneventful life as a professional writer and magazine editor can be found in the About tab.