Archeological Technology Unveils New Ways of Research

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Archeology tells the story of the past, uncovering relics and clues that help piece together the lives and civilizations of those before us. And the sharper the tools, the clearer the image.

With the brisk technological advancement of the past decades, this process is becoming more highly refined and accurate. After 100 years of studying King Tutankhamun’s tomb site, archeologists have made recent breakthrough findings that could suggest more, deeper chambers to the tomb than previously imagined. This leads archaeologists to question if perhaps there are other important figures in Egypt’s history whose final resting place hides somewhere within the tomb. One such figure, many have speculated, could be queen Nefertiti.

Queen Nefertiti, an important political and religious figure, ruled alongside her husband, Pharaoh Akhenaten in the year 1350 BC. Nefertiti was Tutankhamen’s step mother, and while much is known about her deeds in life, almost no evidence has been uncovered regarding her burial. Perhaps one of these new, deeper chambers could hold the answer.

The technology that has made some of these new discoveries possible has been used in some form since the 1970’s, but never to this level of proficiency that it is today. An essential piece of equipment for any geophysical survey team is ground penetrating radar, or GPR. This device sends electromagnetic waves through the ground, which then ricochet back up to a sensor. Different density objects and matter reflect differently to the machine, and thus gives archaeologists a rough idea of what may lie below.

Archeologists can also use the Earth’s magnetic poles to help determine where large collections of ancient civilizations lay buried. This particular practice is called magnetometry.

These techniques were used in a recent survey of the Stonehenge archaeological site in England, and shed new light on ancient ritual and worship practices of the indigenous people of the region. Underneath the ground new ritual sites were discovered, showing archeologists how expansively built upon the area truly was. It hinted at the organization and coordination of these early tribes, and the religious practices that before had been much less understood. Part of the architectural arrangement even held astronomical significance.

Around the world, the hunt continues to discover entirely new dig sites and to revisit old ones to ensure nothing was missed. To understand those who walked the earth before us, these ancient remains are the most promising evidence we have. Everyday, new evidence surfaces, and everyday, one more piece of the puzzle falls into place.

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