Archaeology News: 2024.06.22

Biblical Archaeological Society News

  • Posted on Wednesday June 19, 2024

    Entrance to the fourth-century cave church at Mt. Staurinus on the outskirts of Antakya, Turkey, where the apostle Peter may have first preached in ancient Antioch. Photo by Volkan Hatem – Volkan Hatem, CC BY 2.5, via Wikimedia Commons. In February 2023, southern Turkey and northern Syria were hit by a series of powerful earthquakes that laid waste to much of the region. The loss to life, livelihoods, and property has been nearly incalculable: The earthquakes killed tens of thousands, displaced millions, and leveled entire cities and towns. The city of Antakya, built on the ruins of Antioch, one of the greatest cities of the Roman world and an early home to nascent Christianity, suffered irreparable damage to its deep history and rich religious traditions. Founded in the late fourth century BCE as a commercial and strategic center on the Orontes River, Antioch was the capital of the powerful Seleucid Empire, which controlled much of the Hellenistic Near East, including Judea, until its conquest by the Romans in 64 BCE. The city’s cosmopolitan, multicultural character, which included a large and vibrant Jewish community, made it fertile ground for early Christian missions. Indeed, both Paul’s and Peter’s visits to the city are well documented in the New Testament (Acts 11:26; 15:30; Galatians 2:11–16). As an early patriarchate, Antioch was a major center of Christian life and learning (see Antioch’s Silent Guardians), until wars, epidemics, and earthquakes brought about its gradual decline in the sixth and seventh centuries. FREE ebook: Ten Top Biblical Archaeology Discoveries. Finds like the Pool of Siloam in Israel, where the Gospel of John says Jesus miraculously restored sight to a blind man. First Name:* Last Name:* Email Address: * * Indicates a required field. SUBMIT If you don’t want to receive the Bible History Daily newsletter, uncheck this box. Although much of the ancient city remains deeply buried beneath modern Antakya and two millennia of alluvial deposits from the Orontes, many of Antakya’s historic landmarks preserve the religious and cultural traditions of the city’s ancient past. Located in the heart of Antakya’s old city, the seventh-century Habib Najjar Mosque, for example, was built on the remains of a Byzantine church, which itself stood on the ruins of a Roman temple. Thought to be the oldest mosque in Turkey, it is now a pile of rubble, its soaring dome collapsed inside what remains of its beautiful painted interior. Similarly, St. Paul’s Church, which had been the site of the city’s Greek Orthodox community since the 14th century, was left in ruins. Though the city’s modern synagogue was spared, what little remained of the city’s ancient and once-thriving Jewish population has since relocated to elsewhere in Turkey. Remarkably, some of Antakya’s older and more notable heritage sites survived the earthquakes relatively unscathed. ... Continue Reading...


  • Posted on Tuesday June 04, 2024

    What happened to the Canaanites? DNA sequencing was conducted on five skeletons from Canaanite Sidon, including this one. The results indicate that there is a “genetic continuity” between the Canaanites at Sidon and the modern Lebanese. Photo: Courtesy of Claude Doumet-Serhal. What happened to the Canaanites?  Researchers conducted DNA sequencing on ancient Canaanite skeletons and have determined where the Canaanites’ descendants can be found today. The Canaanites were a Semitic-speaking cultural group that lived in Canaan (comprising Lebanon, southern Syria, Israel and Transjordan) beginning in the second millennium B.C.E. and wielded influence throughout the Mediterranean. In the Hebrew Bible, the Canaanites are described as inhabitants of Canaan before the arrival of the Israelites (e.g., Genesis 15:18–21, Exodus 13:11). Little of the Canaanites’ textual records remain, perhaps because they used papyrus instead of the more durable clay for writing. Much of the Canaanites’ history is reconstructed through the writings of contemporary peoples in addition to archaeological examinations of the material record. Marc Haber, Claude Doumet-Serhal, Christiana Scheib and a team of 13 other scientists recently published their DNA findings in The American Journal of Human Genetics (AJHG). The researchers sequenced the genomes of five individuals who were buried in the Canaanite city of Sidon in Lebanon around 1700 B.C.E. as well as the genomes of 99 individuals from Lebanon today. The results of their study demonstrated a connection: “We show that present-day Lebanese derive most of their ancestry from a Canaanite-related population, which therefore implies substantial genetic continuity in the Levant since at least the Bronze Age,” wrote the researchers in AJHG. FREE eBook: Life in the Ancient World. Craft centers in Jerusalem, family structure across Israel and ancient practices—from dining to makeup—through the Mediterranean world. First Name:* Last Name:* Email Address: * * Indicates a required field. SUBMIT If you don’t want to receive the Bible History Daily newsletter, uncheck this box. A painted limestone figurine of a human-ram deity from Canaanite Sidon appears on the cover of the July/August 2017 issue of BAR. Photo: Courtesy of Claude Doumet-Serhal. In the July/August 2017 issue of Biblical Archaeology Review, Claude Doumet-Serhal provides a glimpse of Canaanite Sidon in the Middle Bronze Age: At the dawn of the second millennium B.C.E., the site was covered by a thick layer of deliberately cleaned sand between 3 and 4.6 feet deep, brought from the nearby seashore. This “purifying” activity must have taken weeks of hard labor. At this point Sidon became a burial site. To date, 142 burials have been found in this sand and in subsequent layers on top of it dating until around 1500 B.C.E. A funerary feasting tradition took place at the time of burial. High-ranking individuals were buried with objects indicating their power, rank and reputation, such as a Minoan cup (1984–1859 B.C.E.) from Phaistos, Crete, which ... Continue Reading...


  • Posted on Wednesday May 22, 2024

    Roundtable session on the future of the field. Photo by Glenn Corbett. This past January, prominent archaeologists and biblical scholars from around the world gathered for a weekend of lectures and discussion at the Lanier Theological Library in Houston. The event, organized by Lipscomb University, was primarily a commemoration of the work and legacy of William Dever, the longtime leading voice of American biblical archaeology,* who celebrated his 90th birthday in November 2023. Nearly 20 scholars, including Gary Rendsburg, Jodi Magness, Thomas Levy, and many others well known to Biblical Archaeology Review readers, honored Dever with presentations about their latest discoveries and perspectives on the field. But the event, titled “Paradigm Shift or Pitfalls: Does Biblical Archaeology Have a Future?” was also an opportunity to reflect on the state of the field and its future. At least on the surface, the discipline’s prospects appear bleak. Across U.S. higher education, smaller history, anthropology, and religious studies departments, where biblical archaeology and related fields tend to be taught, are reducing faculty or shuttering altogether. Even programs at elite research institutions face existential threats from declining enrollments and constant demands to show meaningful employment outcomes for students. Adding to the problem, the field’s leading professional associations—the American Society of Overseas Research and the Society of Biblical Literature—remain divided on many issues, including whether archaeology has any relevance for biblical studies and vice versa. Finally, the field suffers from a severe lack of representation and has not kept pace with changing social and demographic trends, at least within the U.S. FREE ebook: Cyber-Archaeology in the Holy Land — The Future of the Past. Modern archaeological methods help create a new and objective future of the past. First Name:* Last Name:* Email Address: * * Indicates a required field. SUBMIT If you don’t want to receive the Bible History Daily newsletter, uncheck this box. William Dever delivering the conference’s public lecture.Photo by Glenn Corbett. At the same time, biblical archaeology is evolving in new directions that indicate it may yet have a future, though one perhaps removed from its traditional academic roots. In particular, Israeli archaeologists have taken the lead on most excavations in Israel, producing important results using the latest theoretical approaches and scientific methodologies. Similarly, many scholars in the U.S. are defining the field far more broadly, focusing on regional and comparative approaches that make biblical archaeology more relevant to contemporary concerns such as digital documentation and cultural heritage preservation. Perhaps most significant, however, a major focus of American biblical archaeology has shifted to Christian and especially evangelical colleges and universities, particularly those funded by wealthy philanthropists eager to support excavation, research, and student training in the lands of the Bible. These institutions are not only creating space and resources for new faculty, but also making ... Continue Reading...


  • Posted on Sunday May 05, 2024

    “In this palace he erected very high walks, supported by stone pillars; and by planting what was called a pensile paradise, and replenishing it with all sorts of trees, he rendered the prospect an exact resemblance of a mountainous country.” Josephus, Contra Appion, lib.1. c.19-20 (quoting Berossus). At the start of the seventh century B.C.E., the Assyrian king Sennacherib called his new palace at Nineveh a “palace without a rival.” The Hebrew Bible is less kind, describing Nineveh as “that great city with more than 120,000 people who cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand” (Jonah 4:11). Located by modern Mosul in Iraq, Nineveh was undoubtedly the metropolis of its day. Was the construction so extensive as to include one of the Seven Wonders of the World? This Assyrian relief from Nineveh (now housed at the British Museum) shows trees hanging in the air on terraces and plants suspended on stone arches that resemble those from Sennacherib’s waterways, supporting the idea of a hanging garden at Nineveh. Okay, I know what you are thinking. We know where the Seven Wonders were, because the locations are included in their names. The Great Pyramid of Giza. The Temple of Artemis at Ephesus. The Hanging Gardens of Babylon. Let’s stop at that last one. In the third century B.C.E., Berossus wrote that the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar II built the Hanging Gardens almost three hundred years earlier, and his statement was copied by later historians, including Josephus. However, there is no archaeological evidence indicating the presence of massive gardens at Babylon, and while we have hundreds of documents by Nebuchadnezzer describing his building activities, none mention his horticultural pursuits. Who else may have built the legendary gardens? Imagine a gardener, and a tranquil picture probably comes to mind. When Biblical Archaeology Review readers think of the Assyrian king Sennacherib, tranquility is probably the last thing that comes to mind. Sennacherib rampaged through Judah, laying waste to Lachish (immortalized in his extensive reliefs on the siege—click here for seven seminal articles on the city) and besieging Jerusalem until he had King Hezekiah “locked up like a bird in a cage.” Oxford scholar Stephanie M. Dalley presents a different side of Sennacherib in The Mystery of the Hanging Garden of Babylon: An Elusive World Wonder, in which she presents Nineveh as the actual location of the Hanging Gardens. Dalley entertainingly presented the theory in a recent episode of the PBS series Secrets of the Dead entitled “The Lost Gardens of Babylon” (PBS has the entire episode online for free). FREE ebook: From Babylon to Baghdad. Ancient Iraq. Learn about Iraq and its cultural heritage. Download now. First Name:* Last Name:* Email Address: * * Indicates a required field. SUBMIT If you don’t want to receive the Bible History Daily newsletter, uncheck this box. ... Continue Reading...


  • Posted on Tuesday April 30, 2024

    “For abdominal cramp or bruises,” states Marcus Varro, and I quote his very words, “your hearth should be your medicine chest. Drink lye made from its ashes, and you will be cured. One can see how gladiators after a combat are helped by drinking this.” —Pliny, Natural History XXXVI.203 Detail of a third–fourth-century C.E. mosaic depicting gladiatorial combat, now on display in the Galleria Borghese in Rome. Photo: Licensed under public domain via Wikimedia Commons. The Roman gladiator calls to mind a fierce fighter who, armed with an assortment of weapons, battled other gladiators—and even wild animals. What did gladiators eat? Roman author Pliny the Elder reported that gladiators went by the nickname “hordearii” (“barley-eaters”) and drank a tonic of ashes after combat (Pliny, NH XVIII.72, XXXVI.203). A study recently published in the scientific journal PLOS ONE confirmed that gladiators really did eat mostly plants—especially barley and wheat—and may have indeed consumed ashes. Gladiators were typically enslaved prisoners of war and criminals, though free men as well as women participated in gladiatorial games. What began as a component of funeral rites in the early Roman Republic evolved over centuries into bloody spectacles for the entertainment of the Roman people, reaching their peak in popularity in the second century C.E. Researchers from the Institute of Forensic Medicine at the University of Bern and the Medical University of Vienna aimed to investigate how the diet of gladiators compared to the rest of the population. Using spectroscopy to conduct isotopic analysis on the bone remains from a second–third-century C.E. gladiator cemetery in Roman Ephesus in Turkey, the researchers were able to confirm that the individuals buried in the cemetery consumed a mostly plant-based diet—as did the rest of the population in Ephesus. Become a Member of Biblical Archaeology Society Now and Get More Than Half Off the Regular Price of the All-Access Pass! Explore the world’s most intriguing Biblical scholarship Dig into more than 9,000 articles in the Biblical Archaeology Society’s vast library plus much more with an All-Access pass. Tombstone excavated in the gladiator cemetery at Ephesus. Photo: © 2014 Lösch et al. Doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0110489.g002. “Gladiators appear to have eaten a diet similar to that of most other occupants of the Roman Empire, and the authors’ isotope data fit well with my own and others’ research into diet in the first few centuries C.E.,” said Kristina Killgrove, bioarchaeologist at the University of West Florida, in an email to Bible History Daily. The study further found that those buried in the gladiator cemetery had higher strontium-calcium ratios than their contemporaries. This suggests that the gladiators at Ephesus may have really drunk a tonic of ashes as described by Pliny (“cinis lixivus potus”). “Plant ashes were evidently consumed to fortify the body after physical exertion and to promote better bone healing,” study leader Fabian Kanz explained to ScienceDaily. “Things were similar then to what we do today—we take magnesium and calcium (in the form of effervescent tablets, for example) following physical exertion.” In an email to Bible History Daily, University of Hawaii at Manoa classicist Daniel Harris-McCoy offers ... Continue Reading...

News from the American Journal of Archaeology

Roman Archaeology Blog

  • Posted on Sunday April 07, 2024

     A large Roman villa was uncovered in Oxfordshire. Credit: Red River Archaeology GroupThe complex was adorned with intricate painted plaster and mosaics and housed a collection of small, tightly coiled lead scrolls. The Red River Archaeology Group (RRAG), the organization responsible for coordinating the excavation, announced in a press release that these elements suggest that the site may have been used for rituals or pilgrimages.Francesca Giarelli, the Red River Archaeology Group project officer and the site director, told CNN that the villa likely had multiple levels. The Roman villa complex, spanning an impressive 1,000 square meters (or 10,800 square feet) on its ground floor alone, was likely a prominent landmark visible from miles away.“The sheer size of the buildings that still survive and the richness of goods recovered suggest this was a dominant feature in the locality if not the wider landscape,” says Louis Stafford, a senior project manager at RRAG, in the statement.Read the rest of this article... Continue Reading...


  • Posted on Sunday April 07, 2024

    Today, Smallhythe Place in Kent is best known as a bohemian rural retreat once owned by the Victorian actress Ellen Terry and her daughter Edy Craig. As this month’s cover feature reveals, however, the surrounding fields preserve evidence of much earlier activity, including a medieval royal shipyard and a previously unknown Roman settlement (below, first image). Our next feature comes from the heavy clays of the Humber Estuary, where excavations sparked by theconstruction of an offshore windfarm have opened a 40km transect through northern Lincolnshire, with illuminating results (below, second image). We then take a tour of Iron Age, Roman, and medieval Winchester, tracing its evolution into a regional capital and later a royal power centre.Read the rest of this article... Continue Reading...


  • Posted on Wednesday January 31, 2024

    Tom Quad, Christ Church, Oxford University – image David BeardThe Oxford Experience summer school is held at Christ Church, Oxford. Participants stay in Christ Church and eat in the famous Dining Hall, that was the model for the Hall in the Harry Potter movies.This year there are twelve classes offered in archaeology.You can find the list of courses here… Continue Reading...


  • Posted on Monday January 29, 2024

    ‘It was killing fields as far as the eye can see’ … the Latin-inscribed slabs crossing the site of the battle, which features in the British Museum show Legion.Photograph: David Levene/The Guardian‘Their heads were nailed to the trees’: what was life – and death – like for Roman legionaries?It was the defeat that traumatised Rome, leaving 15,000 soldiers slaughtered in a German field. As a major show explores this horror and more, our writer finds traces of the fallen by a forest near the RhineIt is one of the most chilling passages in Roman literature. Germanicus, the emperor Tiberius’s nephew, is leading reprisals in the deeply forested areas east of the Rhine, when he decides to visit the scene of the catastrophic defeat, six years before, of his fellow Roman, Quinctilius Varus. The historian Tacitus describes what Germanicus finds: the ghastly human wreckage of a supposedly unbeatable army, deep in the Teutoburg Forest. “On the open ground,” he writes, “were whitening bones of men, as they had fled, or stood their ground, strewn everywhere or piled in heaps. Near lay fragments of weapons and limbs of horses, and also human heads, prominently nailed to trunks of trees.”Read the rest of this article... Continue Reading...


  • Posted on Monday January 29, 2024

    Schematic drawing of the relationship between climatic change and sociological, physical, and biological factors influencing infectious disease outbreaks.Credit: Science Advances (2024). DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.adk1033A team of geoscientists, Earth scientists and environmental scientists affiliated with several institutions in Germany, the U.S. and the Netherlands has found a link between cold snaps and pandemics during the Roman Empire.In their project, reported in the journal Science Advances, the group studied core samples taken from the seabed in the Gulf of Taranto and compared them with historical records.Researchers learn about climatic conditions in the distant past by analyzing sediment built up from river deposits. Tiny organisms that are sensitive to temperature, for example, respond differently to warm temperatures than to cold temperatures and often wind up in such sediment. Thus, the study of organic remains in sediment layers can reveal details of temperatures over a period of time.Read the rest of this article... Continue Reading...

Archaeology and Egyptology in the 21st century

  • Posted on Wednesday April 24, 2024

    Mastabas in the Eastern Cemetery, with the Great Pyramid of Khufu (rear right); the pyramid of Khafre (rear, left) and the pyramid of Khufu’s Queen Henutsen (rear, centre) behind. A small chapel is visible in the ‘street’ between the mastabas in the foreground, with the denuded edge of mastaba G7430 behind it. To the left is the north edge of mastaba G7520. (Author photograph February 2024). The Eastern Cemetery East of the Great Pyramid, arranged in careful blocks, like a suburb of the dead, are a series of large mastaba (bench) tombs belonging to the nobles of Khufu’s court. The format for these tombs was relatively simple, the masonry ‘bench’ structure contained the offering places and, later, the more extensive tomb chapels, in which the cult of the dead was celebrated. The deceased with their grave goods were buried in subterranean tomb chambers, accessed via various burial shafts, concealed within the masonry structure. Most of these mastabas are closed to the public, although a rotating series of more interesting, well-preserved, and decorated tombs are accessible as part of the Giza Plateau ticket. (These include but are not limited to; G6020 Iymery; G7101 Qar; G7102 Idu; G7130-40 Khufukhaf; G7060 Nefermaat; G7070 Senefrukaef; Lepsius 53, Seshemnefer IV.) The tomb of Meresankh III is an exception to this rule. It is accessible only with a separate ticket and (after recent conservation) is almost always open. Google Maps satellite image of the Great Pyramid and the Eastern Cemetery. The mastabas of the Eastern cemetery appear as rectangular shapes, with the dark squares of the tomb shafts clearly visible cutting through the masonry. The ‘Tomb of Mers Ankh’ is correctly located. The entrance is on the eastern side of the mastaba, to the right of the red pin. The family of Meresankh III (centre), her mother Hetepheres II (left) and her son Nebemabkhet, who was later a vizier (right). Another probable son, Khenterka is shown as a child in front of Meresankh III, holding a lotus flower and a bird. Visiting Meresankh III’s Mastaba G7530-G7540 Meresankh III’s tomb is mastaba G7530-7540, roughly in the middle of the Eastern Cemetery, between the Great Pyramid and the valley. Surprisingly, the Google maps Tomb of Mers Ankh pin is almost exactly correct, just to the left of the subterranean tomb entrance (previous image). For those with small folk, it is also quite child-friendly. The scenes and statues are interesting and retain some of the paint, the burial chamber is easily accessible and, the tomb isn’t too large for a five-year-old attention span. Plus, for those with Disney-obsessed kids, she’s an actual bonafide princess and Queen! Prince Kawab, eldest son of Khufu and Meresankh III’s father, is the largest of any figure in her tomb. (Author photograph). Meresankh III Meresankh III was a granddaughter of Khufu, builder of the Great Pyramid, and wife of Pharaoh Khafre. Her Father, the eldest son of Khufu, Prince Kawab, is featured on the east wall of the first chamber. Her mother, Hetepheres II appears several times, and her son ... Continue Reading...


  • Posted on Thursday March 28, 2024

    In my previous post, I reviewed the Grand Egyptian Museum atrium and Tutankhamun: The Immersive Experience. In this post I will address the sculptures of the Grand Staircase, the only display of ancient Egyptian artefacts currently accessible to the visitor, apart from the statues in the atrium and the hanging obelisk. When the museum is fully open, the Grand Staircase will lead to the galleries of museum exhibits, but at the time of writing (February 2024) it can be visited as part of a guided tour that also includes the hanging obelisk and the atrium and follows the immersive Tutankhamun experience. Tickets can be booked via the GEM website. The Grand Staircase from the bottom. The usurped pair of colossal seated statues of a late Middle Kingdom Pharaoh are visible to the left (GEM45807 and GEM 45808), with a standing statue of Senusret III (GEM1709) between them. Beyond them are the Thutmosides and Ramessides. To the right of the staircase is a seated statue of Thutmose III (GEM 3769) and a colossal head of Akhenaten (GEM 2220), safely isolated from his religiously orthodox peers (Author photograph). Practicalities The Grand Staircase is located in the centre of the south side of the GEM, and is accessed by turnstiles in front of the granite statues of two Ptolemaic monarchs (probably Ptolemy II and Arsinoe II). There are four travelators to the right of the staircase, allowing visitors to ride up and access three intermediate landings and the top level of the staircase. For those with accessibilty needs the travelator will be most welcome, but there is nothing to stop you from walking up, and the stairs are interspersed with seating if you need a rest, or would like to stop and soak in the statuary and sculptures. Each landing has a large board explaining the theme of the next part of the staircase, and touchable models of significant artefacts for those who need tactile formats. Spaced regularly up the staircase, with easy access all around the individual artefacts, the statuary renders the staircase a kind of vertical sculpture gallery. Group of Ramessides as standard bearers. Seti II (GEM 2236), usurped from Amenmesse, is in the foreground with Ramses III (GEM 5993) behind him. Merneptah (GEM 2234) is just visible to the right of Seti II, with Roman Emperor Caracalla (GEM 6730) beyond. The royal image The sculptures of the Grand Staircase are broadly themed around Kingship, beginning with various royal statues, followed by sculptures showing the relationship between the King and the gods, and ending with those relating to the royal afterlife. In the lowest section of the staircase, we are introduced to various Pharaohs, beginning with an unfortunate late Middle Kingdom Pharaoh (probably Sensuret III or Amenemhat IV) whose pair of seated colossal statues were usurped initially by Ramses II and now bear the cartouches of Merneptah. Several statues of Thutmose III, Hatshepsut, and a rather nice black granite seated statue of Amenhotep III serve to represent the Thutmosides. The Ramessides are ... Continue Reading...


  • Posted on Wednesday February 28, 2024

    The courtyard of the Grand Egyptian Museum, with the entrance to the left and the hanging obelisk of Ramses II to the right. The route from the obelisk to the entrance is flanked by colonnades and shallow lakes. (Author photo) The colossus of Ramses II, in position in the atrium of the GEM. (Author photo). The Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM) at Giza will be Egypt’s modern, state-of-the-art, flagship museum for the country’s ancient past. Located just north of the Giza pyramids, the GEM will provide an opportunity for those short on time to visit both the Giza pyramids and some of the greatest artefacts from ancient Egypt. Over the last six years, there have been several high-publicity transfers of various ancient artefacts to the GEM. Tutankhamun’s treasures were on their way to the GEM when I last visited the Cairo Museum in Tahrir Square in 2017. The colossal granite statue of Ramses II from Memphis was moved to the GEM from Ramses Square in 2018, in a fittingly complex feat of engineering since the statue had to be kept upright in transit. Khufu’s solar boat, previously in a special museum next to the Great Pyramid, was moved to the GEM in a grand parade in 2021. The ancient Egyptian designers of pyramids and transporters of heavy granite obelisks would surely be impressed at their descendants accomplishments. Practicalities Although the formal opening has been delayed, it is now possible to visit the GEM atrium, Grand Staircase, and Children’s Museum, as well as the shops and audio-visual exhibits. I visited in February 2024, enjoying a guided tour of the Grand Staircase and an immersive Tutankhamun audio-visual experience, entitled Tutankhamun: The Immersive Experience. You can also book a GEM Children’s Museum tour, although time slots are limited. Unfortunately, I can’t review the Children’s Museum tour as there were no tickets on the day we went. Both the adult and the children’s museum tours take about 45 minutes. The Immersive Tutankhamun takes about an extra half an hour and takes place before the tour. So if you want to do the tour and the Immersive Tutankhamun, allow at least an hour and half for both. Longer if you want to explore the Grand Staircase at the end of the tour. Tickets are available online via the GEM website. I was pleasantly surprised that although I visited during the UK half-term holidays, it was possible to book tickets for the same day. I suspect that once the GEM is fully open, it will become much busier, and advance booking will be advisable. The hanging obelisk in the courtyard of the Grand Egyptian Museum. (Author photograph) First Impressions The GEM is undoubtedly a beautiful and impressive building, which echoes ancient Egyptian architecture, but thankfully avoids pastiche. The main entrance is on the south side, reached by a sloping courtyard containing the only hanging obelisk in existence. This obelisk, of Ramses II from Tanis, is the partner to the Tahrir Square obelisk, and has cartouches of Ramses II on ... Continue Reading...


  • Posted on Wednesday December 27, 2023

    In my previous posts, I explained how to pan-sharpen and then mosaic Worldview-3 satellite imagery. The final phase of processing the ‘ortho-ready’ imagery is ‘orthorectification‘. To orthorectify the Worldview-3 imagery I used a 2m resolution digital surface model (DSM) generated by Digitalglobe from a stereo-pair of Worldview-2 satellite images of the same area of Middle Egypt as the Worldview-3 imagery. The DSM arrived as a single-band 2m resolution .tif where the value of each 2m pixel represents the surface height (the ground level if it was visible to the sensor, or the top of the tree or building that obscured the ground) at that point. Comparison of the pan-sharpened, mosaicked Worldview-3 imagery (left) and the Worldview-2 digital surface model (right). (Worldview imagery © 2018 DigitalGlobe Inc. supplied by European Space Imaging) Orthorectifying Orthorectifying shifts the satellite imagery using the digital surface model so that the imagery more accurately reflects the position of the features on the topography. There are multiple ways to orthorectify in ArcGIS using a DSM: in the Layer Properties> Display tab; in the Image Analysis window; or with the ‘Create Ortho Corrected Raster Dataset‘ in the Data Management>Raster>Raster Processing toolset. For these methods to work you will need the .RPB file (which I mentioned in the ‘pansharpening post‘) containing the RPCs for the satellite imagery. This .RPB file MUST live in the same folder and have the same file name as the image you wish to orthorectify. You can find a video of me using these methods to orthorectify the .TIL files of the satellite imagery here on my Youtube channel and below. Video of me orthorectifying the Worldview-3 .TIL file using a DSM in ArcGIS. AcknowledgementsAll the images in this blog post were created using ArcGIS® software by Esri. ArcGIS® and ArcMap are the intellectual property of Esri and are used herein under license. Copyright © Esri. All rights reserved. For more information about Esri® software, please visit http://www.esri.com. Worldview-3 imagery © 2018 DigitalGlobe Inc. supplied by European Space Imaging. Subscribe Follow me on: Google Scholar Academia Researchgate Social media Twitter YouTube Instagram LinkedIn Facebook Search my website Find out more Asyut Region Project Research About Publications Contact me Freelance Archaeology Related posts December 27, 2023 Orthorectifying Worldview-3 satellite imagery of Gebel Asyut el-Gharbi October 25, 2023 Pan-sharpening a Worldview-3 satellite imagery of Gebel Asyut el-Gharbi September 27, 2023 Mosaicking pan-sharpened Worldview-3 satellite imagery of Gebel Asyut el-Gharbi 1 2 3 … 5 Next Page Continue Reading...


  • Posted on Wednesday October 25, 2023

    Earlier this year, I described how to create and pan-sharpen a multi-spectral 3-band composite Landsat-8 raster. Although I’m all for using free satellite imagery, sometimes it isn’t enough and you need to buy high-resolution satellite imagery from a suitable provider. Such was the case for my work on the archival material from Hogarth’s excavations in the necropolis of Gebel Asyut el-Gharbi in 1906-7. As part of the project, we were able to purchase some high-resolution Worldview-3 satellite imagery of the site, and a 2m digital surface model (DSM), generated from stereo-pair Worldview-2 images. In order to make the best use of these remotely-sensed data, I needed to process the satellite imagery to create a pan-sharpened and orthorectified image as a base map for my research. Satellite imagery – what you get In order to understand why I needed to process the satellite imagery, we need to dig into what it comprises and how it’s delivered to the user. The precise nature of satellite imagery varies somewhat depending on which sensor it comes from, who you obtained it from, whether you paid for it, and what level of processing was already applied when you received it. I received the Worldview-3 satellite ‘ortho-ready’, meaning that it was prepared for me to pan-sharpen and orthorectify it. Each satellite image comprised two folders both named by the same numeric code, one filename ending ‘_MUL’ and one filename ending ‘_PAN’. The MUL folder contains the multi-spectral bands and the PAN folder contains the higher-resolution panchromatic band. PAN files for Worldview-3 ortho-ready imagery. Each folder contains a series of .tif tiles, each of which covers part of the area purchased, while the .TIL file, covers the entire area occupied by those .tifs in a single raster file. There are also .IMD files, .RPB files, .XML files, and several .txt files with additional information in each folder. The Worldview-3 multispectral data showing the individual tifs (left) and the .TIL file (right). (Worldview-3 imagery © 2018 DigitalGlobe Inc. supplied by European Space Imaging) Pan-sharpening As with the Landsat-8 data, the Worldview-3 multispectral bands are lower (c.1.3m) resolution than the panchromatic band (c.0.3m) and need to be pan-sharpened to create a 0.3m resolution multispectral image. Because the Worldview-3 data is provided as a series of .tifs, it’s necessary to pan-sharpen each of the multispectral .tif files separately using the equivalent panchromatic .tif file. Once all the .tif files have been pan-sharpened I will mosaic them into a new raster. As with the Landsat-8 imagery, I pan-sharpened all the .tif files using the ‘Create Pansharpened Raster Dataset‘ tool of the Data Management>Raster>Raster processing toolset of ArcGIS ArcTools. I used the Gram-Schmitt method, as it allowed me to automatically weight the bands by choosing ‘Worldview-3’ under ‘Sensor’. Although it’s also possible to pan-sharpen using Symbology tab of the layer’s properties and in the Image Analysis Window I chose to use the ‘Create Pansharpened Raster Dataset’ tool because it allows me to specify which bands should be included in the resulting raster rather than relying ... Continue Reading...