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Geosciences 2018, 8(12), 491; https://doi.org/10.3390/geosciences8120491

The Application of Freely-Available Satellite Imagery for Informing and Complementing Archaeological Fieldwork in the “Black Desert” of North-Eastern Jordan

1
Department of Archaeology, University of Gent, Campus Ufo, Sint-Pietersnieuwstraat 35, 9000 Gent, Belgium
2
University of Lyon, CNRS, Archéorient UMR 5133, Maison de l’Orient et de la Méditerranée, 5/7 rue Raulin, CEDEX 07, 69365 Lyon, France
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 30 November 2018 / Revised: 11 December 2018 / Accepted: 12 December 2018 / Published: 15 December 2018
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Abstract

Recent developments in the availability of very high-resolution satellite imagery through platforms like GoogleEarth (Google, Santa Clara County, CA, USA) and Bing Maps (Microsoft, Redmond, WA, USA) have greatly opened up the possibilities of their use by researchers. This paper focusses on the exclusive use of free remote sensing data by the Western Harra Survey (WHS), an archaeological project investigating the arid “Black Desert” of north-eastern Jordan, a largely impenetrable landscape densely strewn with basalt blocks. The systematic analysis of such data by conducting a holistic satellite survey prior to the commencement of fieldwork allowed for the precise planning of ground surveys, with advanced knowledge of which sites were vehicle-accessible and how to efficiently visit a stratified sample of different site types. By subsequently correlating the obtained ground data with this analysis, it was possible to create a typological seriation of the site forms known as “wheels”, determine that at least two-thirds of sites are within 500 m of valleys or mudflats (highlighting these features’ roles as access routes and resource clusters) and identify numerous anthropogenic paths cleared through the basalt for site access and long-distance travel. These results offer new insights into this underrepresented region and allow for supra-regional comparisons with better investigated areas by a method that is rapid and cost-effective. View Full-Text
Keywords: remote sensing; free satellite imagery; GoogleEarth; Bing Maps; archaeological fieldwork; arid environments; basalt desert; landscape accessibility; Harra; Jordan remote sensing; free satellite imagery; GoogleEarth; Bing Maps; archaeological fieldwork; arid environments; basalt desert; landscape accessibility; Harra; Jordan
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).
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Smith, S.L.; Chambrade, M.-L. The Application of Freely-Available Satellite Imagery for Informing and Complementing Archaeological Fieldwork in the “Black Desert” of North-Eastern Jordan. Geosciences 2018, 8, 491.

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