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Swords into Ploughshares: Archaeological Applications of CORONA Satellite Imagery in the Near East

Jesse Casana1, Jackson Cothren2 and Tuna Kalayci3

1. Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of Arkansas Email: jcasana@uark.edu
2. Associate Professor and Director, Center for Advanced Spatial Technologies, University of Arkansas
3. PhD candidate, Department of Anthropology, University of Arkansas

Cite this as: J. Casana et al. 2012 'Swords into Ploughshares: Archaeological Applications of CORONA Satellite Imagery in the Near East', Internet Archaeology 32. http://dx.doi.org/10.11141/ia.32.2

Summary

Aerial photos of Mosul

Since their declassification in 1995, CORONA satellite images collected by the United States military from 1960-1972 have proved to be an invaluable resource in the archaeology of the Near East. Because CORONA images pre-date the widespread construction of reservoirs, urban expansion, and agricultural intensification the region has undergone in recent decades, these high-resolution, stereo images preserve a picture of archaeological sites and landscapes that have often been destroyed or obscured by modern development. Despite its widely recognised value, the application of CORONA imagery in archaeological research has remained limited to a small group of specialists, largely because of the challenges involved in correcting spatial distortions produced by the satellites' unusual panoramic cameras. This article presents results of an effort to develop new methods of efficiently orthorectifying CORONA imagery and to use these methods to produce geographically corrected images across the Near East, now freely available through an online database. Following an overview of our methods, we present examples of how recent development has affected the archaeological record, new discoveries that analysis of our CORONA imagery database has already made possible, and emerging applications of CORONA including stereo analysis and DEM extraction.

This article is Open Access, made possible by the generous support of the National Endowment for the Humanities (USA) and the NASA Space Archaeology Program.

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