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May 28, 2018


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Bill Turnier

An interesting aside on the topic of military aerial photography. In an anthropology class over 55 years ago I learned the story of an aspect of the use of photography for archaeological purposes. The French did not exempt clergy from military duty. A French Jesuit archaeologist was assigned to aerial photography duty. Photos taken of what appeared to be pasture revealed lines and shapes that were thought to be of military significance. Yet when troops occupied the fields no structures were found. Excavation revealed that below where lines were present in photos there were buried roads, walls or structures. Because of variations in the nutritional and drainage nature the fields above produced variations in the quality of grasses that were only apparent on close examination of photos. The use of aerial photography for discovery of archaeological sites persists to this day.

Anthony Gaughan

Thank you for your comment, Bill. On that very point, there is an interesting New Yorker article about an ancient city in Honduras that sat undisturbed in dense jungle for centuries until modern technology just recently made it visible from above:

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