Why Take Aerial Photo’s?
Archaeologists usually look at, or take, aerial photographs of sites they wish to research. Aerial photographs show lots of features that cannot be seen at ground level. They can even show the outline of what lies beneath the ground and make it easier to decide where to excavate.
There are three types of features that can be seen through aerial photography – soil marks, cropmarks and shadows.
Soil marks – These are where lines and patches can be seen from the air that indicate where buried remains may lie. Sometimes they can be very clear, as in the photo below. The changes in soil colour are the clue. This shows there may be the remains of a building under the soil. We would not be able to see these if we were stood in the field.
Cropmarks – These show where buried remains may lie by the change in crop colour and crop height. The following diagram shows how this happens.
Where the crop grows very slow and low we would find stone, foundations or the remains of a road under the ground. Where the crops are higher than the rest we would find ditches or pits. Aerial photographs also show us a colour change in the crop which indicated where we would find some archaeology.
Shadows – As the sun starts to go down in the afternoon shadows are formed by trees etc, slight bumps and dips in the landscape are also shown up at this time, which may not be seen when standing at ground level. Some of these features can also be seen as the sun rises in the morning.
In the photo above, the shadows can be seen of the trees and it also shows up the shadow of the ditches and slight bank. Note the colour of the grass is the same both inside and outside the ditches – the dark area is a result of shadows.
So, as you can see, it is very important to look at aerial photographs when looking at a site, as well as looking at it from ground level.
Archaeology Wow!! – Lucy
Lucy is the name given to one of our ancestors that lived about 3.85 million years ago. She was discovered in 1974 at Hadar in Ethiopia, Africa by Dr Donald Johanson.
Lucy’s official name is Australopithecus afarensis and she was an ape-like hominid who stood between 1.05 and 1.51 m tall. She still lived in the trees as well as walking upright and living on the plains, where she ate fruit and plants. We can tell this by looking at her teeth.
Her appearance was ape-like and she had a flat nose, no chin, long arms and she walked upright. She was bipedal – which means walking upright, and this action identifies her as one of our earlier ancestors.
Her remains are now kept at the National Museum of Ethiopia located in Addis Ababa, Africa. Many museums around the world have resign models of her bones and also reconstructions as how she may have looked when she roamed our planet 3.85 million years ago!
Archaeological Site Guide – Wari-Bateshwar Fort, Bangladesh.
The ruins of the Wari-Bateshwar fort are located at Narsingdi, Bangladesh, in South Asia. The site dates from around 450 BC and was in use still in the 17th century.
The site was an ancient fort, with inner and outer areas, and also considered to have been a city and possibly a port, as it sat on the old trading route next to the Brahmaputra river.
It was discovered in 1933 by Hanif Pathan, a local school teacher, but professional excavations did not get under way until 2000 by Prof. Sufi Mostafizur Rahman from the Jahangirnagar University Archaeology Department.
The site is believed to have been the city of Sounagora mentioned by the Greek astronomer and geographer, Ptolemy.
Finds from the site include ceramics, pottery, stone, glass, and plated gold beads, coins, items made of iron, spearheads, hand axes, knives and nails.
Some of the remaining walls stand to 4.87 m high and have a base width of 35 m – which would have been huge for their time. A canal once surrounded the site which was measured as having been 30 m wide.
Wari-Bateshwar is still being excavated, and it must have been a very impressive site – and seeing as it was continually inhabited for so long, was testimony to its location and importance within the area.
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