High-tech archaeologist uses radar, thermal-imagery, & UAV’s to explore sacred sites

Many Mongolians consider the tomb (of Genghis Khan) an extremely sacred place and believe any desecration of it could trigger a curse that would end the world.

“Using traditional archeological methods would be disrespectful to believers,” Albert Yu-Min Lin says. “The ability to explore in a noninvasive way lets us try to solve this ancient secret without overstepping cultural barriers.

Lin investigates sites with a high-tech tool kit that leverages photographs taken firsthand on the ground, images gathered from satellites and unmanned aircraft, GPS tracks from expeditions, and geophysical instruments. “There are many ways to look under the ground without having to touch it,” he observes. Thermal-imaging systems show what lies below by detecting heat signals and patterns emitted from the Earth. Magnetometry uses the Earth’s magnetic field to pinpoint subterranean clues as microscopic as bacteria in decaying wood. Ground-penetrating radar bounces back images revealing subsurface objects or disturbances. Tiny remote wireless sensors collect data from places no human can go.

“These new approaches could benefit all kinds of projects, from gaining a whole new view of regions like Mongolia to tracking animal migrations to mapping the brain,” notes Lin. “The real trick is synthesizing the vast amounts of information we collect into something that can be understood. My colleagues and I use visualization techniques to sort, relate, and cross-link billions of individual data bits. We program it all into a file that allows us to re-render it into a digital 3-D world.”

 

Keep reading to learn how they cast that data into a 3-D room that you can move around in and explore the archaeology site – National Geographic – Albert Yu-Min Lin

 

 

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Biblical accounts of the Ark of the Covenant from the Indiana Jones film

For centuries, people have tried in vain to locate and recover the Bible’s most sacred objects. Among the most sought-after of these religious antiquities is the famed Ark of the Covenant.

This legendary artifact is the ornate, gilded case built some 3,000 years ago by the Israelites to house the stone tablets on which the Ten Commandments were written. Biblical accounts describe the Ark as large, about the size of a 19th-century seaman’s chest, made of gold-plated wood, and topped with two large, golden angels. It was carried using poles inserted through rings on its sides.

The Ark has been linked to several of the Old Testament’s miracles. It was carried before the Israelites during the Exodus and is said to have cleared impediments and poisonous animals from their path. When the Israelites crossed the Jordan River into the Promised Land, the Bible says that the river stopped flowing the moment the Ark-bearers set foot in it.

And when the Israelites besieged Jericho, they carried the Ark around the city for a week, blowing trumpets until, on the seventh day, the walls fell down, allowing easy conquest.

But in 597 and 586 B.C., the Babylonian Empire conquered the Israelites, and the Ark, at the time supposedly stored in the Temple in Jerusalem, vanished from history. Destroyed? Captured? Hidden? Nobody knows.

 

Keep reading: National Geographic – Ark of the Covenant: Many Legends, No Evidence

 

 

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