Posts Tagged ‘syria’

High Tech Finds The Old Tech

Tuesday, March 20th, 2012

None of us have on this planet long enough to remember a house or dwelling being reduced to a dirt mound. You rely on your forebears to pass along knowledge of what used to be where, and you might find it. What happens once it’s forgotten? Could be lost forever.

Satellites to the rescue!

Enter Bjoern H. Menzea of Harvard and Jason A. Ura of MIT, an anthropologist and computer scientist, respectively, who have collaborated on “Mapping patterns of long-term settlement in Northern Mesopotamia at a large scale,” published in the Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. Using satellite images, they’ve uncovered thousands of previously-unknown settlements. Here’s the abstract:

The landscapes of the Near East show both the first settlements and the longest trajectories of settlement systems. Mounding is a characteristic property of these settlement sites, resulting from millennia of continuing settlement activity at distinguished places. So far, however, this defining feature of ancient settlements has not received much attention, or even been the subject of systematic evaluation. We propose a remote sensing approach for comprehensively mapping the pattern of human settlement at large scale and establish the largest archaeological record for a landscape in Mesopotamia, mapping about 14,000 settlement sites—spanning eight millennia—at 15-m resolution in a 23,000-km2 area in northeastern Syria. To map both low- and high-mounded places—the latter of which are often referred to as “tells”—we develop a strategy for detecting anthrosols in time series of multispectral satellite images and measure the volume of settlement sites in a digital elevation model. Using this volume as a proxy to continued occupation, we find a dependency of the long-term attractiveness of a site on local water availability, but also a strong relation to the relevance within a basin-wide exchange network that we can infer from our record and third millennium B.C. intersite routes visible on the ground until recent times. We believe it is possible to establish a nearly comprehensive map of human settlements in the fluvial plains of northern Mesopotamia and beyond, and site volume may be a key quantity to uncover long-term trends in human settlement activity from such a record.

That’s pretty awesome work. New science is magic!

Tanks! Thanks to DigitalGlobe

Tuesday, February 14th, 2012

Our friends at DigitalGlobe Inc., providers of satellite imagery via the Worldview spacecraft, have released photos of Syrian tanks surrounding residential neighborhoods. Via WaPo

Stephen Wood, director of DigitalGlobe’s analysis center, said the photos show tanks, armored personnel carriers and other armored vehicles in the southern part of the city, some of them near apartment buildings.

The satellite images show an increase in the level of army activity in and around Homs from the previous 24 hours, Wood said.

Fighting in Homs has reportedly killed hundreds of people over the past week from bombardments followed by soldiers’ advances. The battle there is part of the Syrian government’s attempts to suppress an 11-month-old uprising against the rule of President Bashar Assad.

Wood said no battle damage was visible in the photos taken Friday, but previous images captured by the company’s satellites did show the effects of fighting.

And this report from Al Jazeera furthers the news…

Good job getting the images out. It’s good for business, especially if you consider there’s growth in the earth observation sector, according to Euroconsult.

Check out their Flickr photostream. Very cool.

Syria: Satellite Sucks

Friday, April 1st, 2011

Is satellite TV the great information distributor of our age? According to Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, it is…

On Wednesday morning the al-Watan newspaper, which is close to the regime, predicted Assad would “reassure all Syrians and draw clear features for the coming phase”.

But instead he criticised “satellite channels, propaganda and a sectarian divide”, which he said had contributed greatly to the unrest that has reverberated through the country.

Assad did acknowledge that “mistakes” had been made in the southern city of Deraa where security forces have been accused of shooting dead more than 100 unarmed demonstrators. “Not all the demonstrators are conspirators,” he said.

The speech was interrupted regularly by members of Syria’s national parliament and was well-received in his constituency.

You just can’t stop people from downlinking content from satellite orbiting 36,000 km in space! Here’s the speech…