Spying on the Past: Declassified Satellite Images and Archaeology

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Front clockwise, starting top left: Views of Tell Brak site, Syria. Landsat ETM courtesy NASA; ASTER courtesy U.S. Geological Survey, and Japan ASTER Program; SPOT Panchromatic courtesy U.S. National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency; CORONA courtesy U.S. Geological Survey; aerial photo courtesy Hartmut Kühne and Joan Oates; DigitalGlobe QuickBird courtesy Google.

Using declassified U.S. government spy satellite and aerial images, Harvard student archaeologists explore sites in Northern Mesopotamia and South America. These images are both visually arresting and potent archaeological tools. Four case studies in Syria, Iraq, Iran and Peru reveal complex early cities, extensive trackways, intricate irrigation canals and even traces of nomadic journeys.

 

Curated by students of Anthropology 97x, Sophomore Tutorial in Archaeology and graduate student, Adam Stack, with Associate Professor of Anthropology Jason Ur and Associate Curator of Visual Anthropology Ilisa Barbash.