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using satellite remote sensing observation technology to discover civilization sites

- May 15, 2018 -

A thousand years: using satellite remote sensing observation technology to discover civilization sites


Introduction: Recently, the Institute of Remote Sensing and Digital Earth of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (hereinafter referred to as the Institute of Remote Sensing and Earth Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences), led by the researcher Wang Xinyuan, conducted a space archaeological research team, and scientists from Tunisia, Italy, and Pakistan used space archaeological techniques and methods in the ancient maritime Silk Road. The western end of Tunisia found 10 ancient Roman archaeological sites.

Recently, the Institute of Remote Sensing and Digital Earth of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (hereinafter referred to as the Institute of Remote Sensing and Earth Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences), led by the researcher Wang Xinyuan, conducted a space archeology research team, and scientists from Tunisia, Italy, and Pakistan used space archaeological techniques and methods in the western end of the ancient Maritime Silk Road in Tunisia. Discover 10 ancient Roman archaeological sites. This is the first time that Chinese scientists used remote sensing technology to discover archaeological sites outside the country. The discovered sites revealed the layout of the military defense system of the southern line of the Roman period and the structure of the agricultural irrigation system.

Ten new sites discovered in Tunisia are of great significance for the study of military defense systems in ancient Rome.

The space archaeological research team led by Wang Xinyuan is under the support of the Digital Belt and Road Initiative, the third project of the “Age Big Data Science and Engineering” project of the Class A pilot project of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and implements the “Digital Silk Road” International Scientific Plan World Heritage Working Group Africa. During the research plan, the above important results were obtained.

According to Wang Xinyuan, the joint archeology took more than two years. In January 2016, the research team conducted indoor remote sensing image processing and interpretation analysis in Beijing. Then they conducted field research and verification with local archeologists in April and November 2017 and April 2018, respectively. They were finally determined in southern Tunisia. Found 10 new Roman ruins.

Wang Xinyuan said: “The 10 newly discovered sites include 3 sidewalls, 2 military forts, 1 agricultural irrigation system, 3 water cellars, and 1 tomb. The evidence chain formed by these archaeological sites reflects ancient Roman times. The southern frontier’s military defensive system, etc. Among them, the side walls and fortresses are used to defend and protect the borders, blocking the infestation of the nomads from the south and the west, agricultural irrigation systems and the storage of fresh water cellars to ensure the food production of the border military and civilians. daily needs."

Located at the western end of the ancient Maritime Silk Road, Tunisia is an important maritime trading port during the Roman period. Experts believe that the new remote sensing archaeological discovery is of great significance for the study of the ancient Roman military defense system, agricultural irrigation systems, the relationship between ancient Rome and nomadic people, and the west end of the Silk Road line, ancient oasis changes, environmental changes and their impact. .

The Chinese Cultural Embassy in Tunis, Counselor Bai Guangming, said that the major archaeological discoveries led by Chinese scientists and the use of remote sensing high-tech have provided powerful science for the “One Belt and One Road” initiative and strengthened exchanges between different countries and civilizations. support.

At the same time, the use of remote sensing technology, satellite navigation systems, geographic information analysis systems and other integrated technologies, combined with literature analysis, field research and development of space archaeological techniques and methods, is a Chinese scientist to go abroad and for the first time leading the joint Asian, European, non-related The country has conducted research on the discovery and system of space archeological remains. This has a symbolic significance for upgrading the research level of Chinese scientists in conducting international cooperation and forming a new set of research techniques and methods for space archeology.

Remote sensing archeology can non-destructively detect targets and save a lot of manpower, material resources and time

The remote sensing technology that emerged in the 1960s refers to the visible, infrared, and microwave electromagnetic waves that are reflected, radiated, or scattered from a distant sensing target to detect and identify the target. Human vision is limited, and the appearance of remote sensing technology has given humanity a "perfect eye" that senses the earth.

People rarely associate archeology with remote sensing technology. In fact, with the deepening of research, archaeology has increasingly exhibited multidisciplinary characteristics, especially with many natural sciences. Modern archaeology makes extensive use of satellite photographs, aerial photographs, topographic maps, and other professional maps on the Earth’s surface to obtain information on cultural relic sites, and continues to expand the application of new geographic information technologies. Remote sensing technology is one of them.

“Historical relics are mostly presented on the surface in certain forms,” said Wang Xinyuan. “We use modern advanced spatial information technology to detect, identify and discover human relics and relics of the past. This is a new non-destructive archeological detection technique and method. ”

The characteristics of electromagnetic spectrum generated by different vegetation, soil, and geomorphological characteristics on the ground are different from those of the site. These differences are not visible to the naked eye, but on remote sensing platforms such as space shuttles, satellites, and drones, the observation equipment can acquire their electromagnetic wave data. The information processed by the computer can help scientists understand the vegetation, soil, and topography of the observation site and extract the archeological target information.

Wang Xinyuan said that remote sensing archeology has many advantages, such as wide coverage, can obtain the global information of the detection area; a large spectral range, break through the visible light range, can obtain other bands of ground information; time-space-spectral resolution is high, can be obtained Monthly and even daily, as well as sub-millimeter and even centimeter resolution, multi-spectral, or even hundreds of hyperspectral remote sensing images, enhances the ability to identify the detection area features; has a certain penetration ability, synthetic aperture imaging radar energy Penetrating to the subsurface, Lidar can penetrate the forest cover to obtain ground information, and the GPR can obtain underground buried cultural relics information. "Remote sensing archeology can perform non-destructive detection of targets and save a lot of manpower, material resources and time, which are its advantages."

The remote-sensing archeology is not just a matter of discovering archaeological targets, it will be done. As a modern science and technology and method, remote sensing technology is being combined with other technologies, methods and theories (such as geographic information system technology, global navigation satellite system positioning technology, environmental archaeology, etc.) to expand the value of its discovery and form a new set of The research technology and method paradigm, and then establish a new discipline of space archeology.

Using remote sensing technology, Chinese scientists have discovered that the ancient rivers and lakes tandem system covered by dry sands in the Alxa Plateau and the Great Wall of Ming and Ancient

Remote sensing archeology began in 1906 on a military hot-air balloon photographed in the British prehistoric Stonehenge site. In the 1920s, aviation archaeological surveys and aerial film analysis became milestones in the development of remote sensing archaeology. With the extensive application of satellite remote sensing archaeology in the 1970s, remote sensing archaeology has gradually become an essential and commonly used detection technology and method in archaeological research.

Mr. Guan Qiang, Director of the Department of Public Administration of the State Administration of Cultural Heritage, said that groups of cultural relics buried deep underground for thousands of years have been discovered and discovered by scientists. Some damaged precious cultural heritage has been restored and digitally preserved. Among these, remote sensing technology has played an extremely important role.

Using remote sensing technology, American archaeologists discovered the ancient Egyptian city of Alexandria sinking thousands of years under the sea; Greek archaeologists used infrared images to discover the ancient city “Hekike” in the Corinthian Gulf destroyed in 373 BC; China’s Chinese Academy of Sciences Remote Earth Guo Huadong's task force has discovered the Furukawa Lake tandem system under the dry sand cover of the Alxa Plateau and the Great Wall and the Great Wall of China. Remote sensing technology has unique advantages in the discovery of cultural sites.

The role of remote sensing technology in the protection of cultural heritage cannot be underestimated. “The Lidar is an emerging technology in remote sensing. Its advantage lies in its ability to obtain three-dimensional images of objects and is very suitable for the protection of cultural heritage,” said Wang Cheng, a researcher at the Institute of Remote Sensing and Earth Sciences at the Chinese Academy of Sciences. “For example, the weathering erosion of the Longmen Grottoes has been It is a difficult problem, but if it can be three-dimensionally scanned with a laser radar, it can be restored to a computer model later, and more importantly, scientists can use this data to analyze the causes of the damage, such as temperature, wind force, and humidity. And so on, instructing the cultural relics department to carry out more detailed repairs."

In the protection of natural heritage, especially the larger natural heritage, remote sensing technology also has advantages that other technologies cannot match.