Archeology – the science that studies human cultures through the recovery, documentation, analysis and interpretation of material remains and environmental data, including architecture, artifacts, features, biofacts, and landscapes. Because archaeology’s aim is to understand mankind, it is a humanistic endeavor.
Given the broad scope of the discipline there is a great deal of cross-disciplinary research in archaeology. It draws upon anthropology, history, art history, classics, ethnology, geography, geology, physics, information sciences, chemistry, statistics, paleoecology, paleontology, paleozoology, paleoethnobotany, paleobotany . And engineering.
In the 1960s, a number of primarily American archaeologists, such as Lewis Binford and Kent Flannery, rebelled against the paradigms of cultural history. They proposed a “New Archaeology”, which would be more “scientific” and “anthropological”, with hypothesis testing and the scientific method very important parts of what became known as processual archaeology.
- mapping of large or complex sites – Aerial survey is conducted using cameras attached to airplanes, balloons, or even kites. Satellite images – Google Earth are frequently used, especially for remote and inaccessible sites.
- Aerial imaging can also detect many things not visible from the surface. Plants growing above a buried man made structure, such as a stone wall, will develop more slowly, while those above other types of features (such as middens) may develop more rapidly.
- Aerial photographs taken at different times of day will help show the outlines of structures by changes in shadows.
- Aerial survey also employs infrared, ground-penetrating radar wavelengths, and thermography.
- Archaeological geophysics can be the most effective way to see beneath the ground. Magnetometers detect minute deviations in the Earth’s magnetic field caused by iron artifacts, kilns, some types of stone structures, and even ditches and middens.
- Devices that measure the electrical resistivity of the soil are also widely used. Archaeological Features whose electrical resistivity contrasts with that of surrounding soils can be detected and mapped.
- Pyramid Rover was a successful reconnaissance mission into the southern shaft coming out of the Queen’s Chamber (QCS). The mission had confirmed that the 20 x 20 cm blocking slab and the final section of U-block were made of a higher quality type of limestone than the rest of the shaft, most likely the fine limestone quarried at Tura rather than the rougher local yellow limestone.
- The Djedi Project – using technology designed for uses as divergent as space exploration and terrestrial search and rescue, we are finally able to explore the chamber behind Gantenbrink’s Door.
Meet the people in Archeology Engineering
- brilliantly eccentric dentist/space engineer/adventurer, Dr TC Ng. He led the team at Hong Kong Polytechnic University that was developing a drill for the lander. TC is fascinated by the pyramids. He wanted me to help him to explore mysterious “tunnels” in the Great Pyramid. Under the authority of Zahi Hawass at the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities, and via the team at Leeds University, we built a robotic explorer called Djedi, that discovered unusual written characters in the pyramid that had lain hidden for 4500 years.