(National Geographic) A study of Cold War spy-satellite photos has tripled the number of known archaeological sites across the Middle East, revealing thousands of ancient cities, roads, canals, and other ruins.
In recent decades archaeologists have often used declassified satellite images to spot archaeological sites in Iraq, Turkey, and Syria. (Related: "'Lost' New England Revealed By High Tech Archaeology.")
But the new Corona Atlas of the Middle East, unveiled Thursday at the Society for American Archaeology's annual meeting, moves spy-satellite science to a new level. Surveying land from Egypt to Iran—and encompassing the Fertile Crescent, the renowned cradle of civilization and location of some of humanity's earliest cities—the atlas reveals numerous sites that had been lost to history.
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"Some of these sites are gigantic, and they were completely unknown," says atlas-team archaeologist Jesse Casana of the University of Arkansas, who presented the results. "We can see all kinds of things—ancient roads and canals. The images provide a very comprehensive picture."