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Science Technology

Drones and Satellites Spot Lost Civilizations In Unlikely Places 55

sciencehabit writes What do the Sahara desert and the Amazon rainforest have in common? Until recently, archaeologists would have told you they were both inhospitable environments devoid of large-scale human settlements. But they were wrong. Here today at the annual meeting of the AAAS, two researchers explained how remote sensing technology, including satellite imaging and drone flights, is revealing the traces of past civilizations that have been hiding in plain sight."
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Drones and Satellites Spot Lost Civilizations In Unlikely Places

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  • every few years (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ganjadude ( 952775 ) on Sunday February 15, 2015 @11:40PM (#49064163) Homepage
    Every few years we read about long lost civilizations that were found by aerial footage. I remember a handfull of years ago people were using google earth to locate some. Its always interesting when the news comes out. but 99% of the time once its "found" thats the end of it for us, no more news ever comes out. Hopefully this will lead to some new findings
    • Re:every few years (Score:5, Interesting)

      by TWX ( 665546 ) on Sunday February 15, 2015 @11:45PM (#49064191)
      Except that in both cases, evidence of civilization in both places has been established prior to satellites and aircraft, and anthropologists and archeologists have provided evidence, and climate scientists have provided us with theories for the end of that civilization in what's now the Sahara, in the form of the Sahara Pump Theory.

      Sure, aerial survey techniques can be used to help, and might even be able to establish evidence in other places, but for the moment it isn't quite as influential as the summary makes it out to be.
      • by gl4ss ( 559668 )

        basically its just "OMG DRONESSSS"

        it's just aerial imaging. nothing new and the "how" things have been looked for and found with it is old hat..

        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          basically its just "OMG DRONESSSS"

          That should be "OMG DRONIES!!!!" and it should be in giant pink letters with animated sparkles like this [imgur.com].

    • Re:every few years (Score:4, Interesting)

      by rtb61 ( 674572 ) on Sunday February 15, 2015 @11:59PM (#49064229) Homepage

      That of course is of limited benefit as humanity has a predilection to crafting civilisations on the coast at river mouths. Not much visible ancient history of that but of course end of a twenty odd thousand year long ice age and a rather substantial couple of hundred metre odd rise in sea level. Perhaps sonar mapping will expose far more than aerial or satellite images. Watching you civilisation die beneath the waves will likely have a major impact upon where you choose to rebuild it, keeping in mind the real destructive impact of societies attempting to relocate to more primitive already inhabited areas.

      • by gl4ss ( 559668 )

        unlikely as ground for most part has risen not sunken for the time period we believe there to have been advanced large cultures.

        anyways, plenty of stuff still found at the ancient harbors in greece, italy and egypt.

    • The Yamamomo didn't want to be found, and being found destroyed their world.

    • Every few years we read about long lost civilizations that were found by aerial footage. I remember a handfull of years ago people were using google earth to locate some. Its always interesting when the news comes out. but 99% of the time once its "found" thats the end of it for us, no more news ever comes out.

      Plenty of news comes out - if you're following the relevant news sources. If you rely on mass/popular media (which relies on sex and shock to sell, and includes Slashdot), all you're going to get is

  • Lets hope they can find the ancient aliens civilisation so we can discover some of their technology (fusion power, FTL druve, antigravity...

  • 'Drone'
    That makes the article special

    How about...aircraft.?
  • I wonder, on what the changes of climate, that eventually turned Sahara [livescience.com] into an inhospitable desert, were blamed by the shamans of the time...

    Could it possibly have been the burning of too much of the wrong fuels by the selfish population? Or some other sacrilege?

    • The Sahara as we know it now exists mainly because during 'roman times' (+/-500 years) the woods there got lumbered down.
      So yes, it is mainly man made.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Completely wrong. At least provide a credible source for this astounding claim.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          Completely wrong. At least provide a credible source for this astounding claim.

          Look no further than the story of Ali Baba and the 40 thieves. Although this story has been retold and collected numerous times during the centuries, and undergone extensive editing in the process, all sources agree on Ali Baba's occupation: not an imam, not a slave trader, not a caravan owner, not a camel breeder, but an incongruous wood cutter (the ancient equivalent of a lumberjack).

          (ok, now take a deep breath and a pinch of salt for the above.)

      • by ModelX ( 182441 )

        The Sahara as we know it now exists mainly because during 'roman times' (+/-500 years) the woods there got lumbered down.
        So yes, it is mainly man made.

        That's not quite true. Lumbering only affected the progress of northern border of Sahara.

        The weather patterns were also changing during Roman times. There was more rain in some places and some places were even warmer than today.

      • by grey1 ( 103890 ) on Monday February 16, 2015 @06:33AM (#49065485)

        I think the evidence suggests a longer-range climate cycle, rather than a man-made event, at least based on some of the material summarised in wikipedia on the Sahara:

        Sahara pump theory [wikipedia.org] with long periods of increased rainfall

        Neolithic subpluvial [wikipedia.org] with a wet phase from about 10000 years ago to about 5000 years ago

        and then a very specific paper from 1987, for those who like their research in detailed PDFs, describing the evidence (bones, different alluvial deposits etc) [uni-koeln.de] for the wet period

        • Sorry,

          I was unprecise, I was more talking about the edges of the Sahara, mainly the 300km stripe at the mediterranean coast from Marocco to Egypt.

          Ofc the Sahara center is an other issue and has a quite fluctuating history since the end of the ice age.

          But thanx for the links, they are interesting!

      • by mi ( 197448 )

        The Sahara as we know it now exists mainly because during 'roman times' (+/-500 years) the woods there got lumbered down.

        Here [livescience.com] is the timeline — already linked to once before:

        • 22,000 to 10,500 years ago: The Sahara was devoid of any human occupation outside the Nile Valley and extended 250 miles further south than it does today.
        • 10,500 to 9,000 years ago: Monsoon rains begin sweeping into the Sahara, transforming the region into a habitable area swiftly settled by Nile Valley dwellers.
        • 9,000 to 7,300
        • Nicely said!

        • I was manly referring to the parts the romans occupied, obviously.

          Also you missed the point of +/- 500 years, extend it to -1500 then, does not really matter.

          Point is: even during roman times the north of the *now* Shara, and that means the whole area from Marocco to Egypt was a fertile Wood/Fields area, the main grain harvesting ground for the mediterranean area.

          However you are right about the core of the Sahara.

          If you want to ask why Spain is so dry, same answer: deforested mainly during roman times.

          • by mi ( 197448 )

            If you want to ask why Spain is so dry, same answer: deforested mainly during roman times.

            Seriously? You were just demonstrated to be full of manure and typing up the content of the wrong orifice. Instead of running away in shame and changing your /. account to reduce the frequency of nightmares of this public planing set to haunt you for years to come, instead of seeking counseling or joining a monastery, you are right back here fighting some sort of rearguard action?

            No, I don't want to ask, why Spain is

            • Don't know what you want to say or ask :)

              It is a no brainer that climate changes happend without human interference.

              So, what is your point?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 16, 2015 @02:01AM (#49064583)

    DON'T WASTE YOUR TIME CLICKING ON THIS ARTICLE!
    I came for pictures but all I got was teasers for conferences.

  • OK folks, let's stop griping about the OP and try to get some actual content. If you look at the home page of David Mattingly, the main researcher on this project, and check his list of publications, you'll hit this one:

    http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S000... [doi.org]

    It describes his team's exploration of previously-unknown settlement by Garamantes people, ancestors of today's Tuaregs, who dominated the Sahara from 500 BC to 700 AD. Cool stuff. He's been working in the area for 20 years, and the people in question

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