Archaeologists Are Creating a Database of Endangered Sites
"Scholars estimate that in North Africa and the Middle East alone, there could be up to five million archaeological sites. The majority are still unknown or else have never been officially recorded — a troubling thought at a time when population explosion, urban expansion, wars, and looting threaten their survival. How can we save them for future generations if we don’t even know they exist? This dearth of information is the impetus behind Endangered Archaeology, a massive effort at the universities of Oxford and Leicester to document North African and Middle Eastern archaeological sites ... The project sprang out of APAAME (Aerial Photographic Archive for Archaeology in the Middle East), an aerial documentation project in Jordan that Bewley’s been working on with colleague David Kennedy since 1998. After hearing about their work, the cultural heritage fund Arcadia got in touch with a unique proposition. 'They said, ‘Would you be interested in a project that covered the whole Middle East and North Africa because of the conflict and everything else?'' he recalled. They agreed, and Arcadia gave them $1.8 million to do it. Over the next two years, 11 full-time staff members (10 at the University of Oxford and one at the University of Leicester) will scour satellite images for landscape irregularities that could be tombs, settlements, forts, towns, cities, or field and irrigation systems. 'We’re looking in areas where we know there’s archaeology and where we think there will be some pressure or some threat,' Bewley said ..."