Lost Pyramids Spotted From Space

Satellites, infra-red imaging identify more than 1K tombs
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted May 25, 2011 7:44 AM CDT
Updated May 28, 2011 6:09 AM CDT
A recently uncovered tomb is seen in Saqqara, Egypt in this file photo.   (AP Photo/Supreme Council of Antiquities)

(Newser) – An American Egyptologist thinks she’s discovered 17 buried pyramids, more than 1,000 lost tombs and 3,000 ancient settlements, using satellite photos and infra-red imaging. Ancient Egyptian structures were made out of mud brick, which is significantly denser than the surrounding soil, Dr. Sarah Parcak explains in a new BBC documentary. Those buildings show up in the infra-red images, producing detailed maps of sprawling, buried cities.

“It just shows us how easy it is to underestimate both the size and scale of past human settlements,” she says, adding, “These are just the sites [close to] the surface. … This is just the beginning.” Early excavations have uncovered two pyramids and several of the structures she identified, validating the technology, which Parcak thinks is the future of archaeology. “Indiana Jones is old school,” she says. “We’ve moved on from Indy, sorry, Harrison Ford.”

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