As we have been discussing preservation of archaeological sites and artifacts lately in class, I figured this article was quite fitting. This article published by National Geographic talks about the new use of small drones that archaeologists have been using to document different sites. Archaeologists have been using small electronic drones with simple point-and-shoot cameras attached to them in order to take pictures of the different sites. The cameras are able to shoot near-infrared photos that document vegetation, nooks and crannies at each site. They can use these photos to evaluate the looting activity that occurs at many of these sites in Jordan.
According to the article, a lot of extra looting started after the Jordanian conflict. Specialists say that many of the looters are actually nearby farmers or children, who are trying to earn some more money in the poor economy. There has been evidence that suggests that looters are actually revisiting old dig sites that had been previously looted. This shows that the “easy-pickings” are all gone and people must look deeper to find more artifacts.
As in class, we learn how detrimental this can be to the field of archaeology. Once removed from their context, material culture loses its value and meaning. One specialist mentioned how many of the articles show up on Ebay, as we saw in class. These artifacts are usually mislabeled and wrongly named. Once bought, the artifact may be lost forever.
I find it particularly interesting that the advancement of technology has allowed for hard scientists to assemble and use drones for their own purposes. When one thinks of a drone, they imagine large, quick aircrafts. Yet according to this article, these drones are smaller vehicles that can be controlled with remotes. I cannot help but imagine a small model helicopter with a camera attached. The fact that such simple technology can be so helpful in a field like archaeology is so intriguing.