Discovering the old with the new


When we think about archaeology, we probably all think about Indiana Jones and people in the desert slowly shuffling sand out of the way, to lay bare an ancient artifact. This was how it was done several decades ago, when Howard Carter discovered the pyramid of Tutankhamun , but in present day, this image is wrong.

An modern archaeologist uses technologically advanced tools and methods to try and find new dig sites and to examine found artifacts.

This article gives us an insight of how archaeologists use Non-destructive testing methods and tools to get good results.

Finding new site to dig is no longer just looking at old maps in dusty libraries, it’s using satellite images, radars and measuring changes in the magnetic field of the earth or soil resistivity  to determine if it’s worthwhile to start excavating a site.

There are even research teams that use simulations and modeling to predict where artifacts can be found, based on know locations of ancient tribes and societies, the movements of those tribes/societies, possible movements in the earths crust,…

Once a location is determined and the first artifacts are found, these go to the lab for further testing. No longer are they just described and drawn/photographed. Nowadays a large array of techniques is used to find out as much as possible from every artifact found. Isotope geochemistry,radiocarbon dating even CT-scans and other medical examinations are used to truly found out everything there is to know about the pieces found.

I find this evolution and the use of these modern techniques fascinating, as it is truly a clash of old and new: using the newest, most advanced tools available to discover and research remains of the oldest life known to us.


2 thoughts on “Discovering the old with the new

  1. In the article they explain how the portable X-ray works, but is this kind of radiation not harmful for the surroundings? We talked in your other posts about the danger of some devices, but in the article they don’t talk about that. It’s very impressive what technology people nowadays can use but it would be a pity if we destroy for example fertile soil by shooting it with X-rays.


    1. @noejens
      I don’t think that the radiation is so strong that it contaminates the soil with radio-activity. I think you can compare it to the kind of x-ray’s you take in the hospital. And also, it would be ridiculous to take thousands of pictures of the same square meter, which might have an effect on the soil. Either you found something and you take a couple of pictures to investigate the ground, or you didn’t find anything and you move on to another area.


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