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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Baithak World May 27: The Space Archaeologists, Headlines, Cartoons and more

If it weren’t for the landmines, Lingapura would be a great place to dig. For part of the 10th century, this pocket of northwestern Cambodia was the capital of the famed Angkorian empire, a sprawling city studded with homes, irrigation channels, and more than 1,000 temples crowned with stone lingam, or phalluses. But ever since Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge dotted Cambodia with millions of landmines in the 1970s, Lingapura’s ruins have sat mostly untouched.

For Damian Evans and Bill Saturno, now surveying Lingapura from atop a crumbling 1,000-year-old tower, the mines don’t really matter. Evans and Saturno are among a growing group of archaeologists who use radar, satellite imagery and other advanced technologies to uncover the mysteries surrounding ancient civilizations. This young vanguard of scholars explores not only regions where violence rules out groundwork, but also sites previously invisible from the ground: the ocean floor, dense jungle, even buried cities. They are transforming archaeology from a gritty, hands-on profession into an office job—what NASA terms, in program-funding documents, “space archaeology.” In doing so, they’re unearthing whole civilizations and rewriting history books: reshaping, in a few short years, the study of our preindustrial past.

The Space Archaeologists


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