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Title: The detection of ancient mines by NASA space shuttle imaging RADAR : Scotland, the Sinai and Spain
Author: McKay, Gary
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2003
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The pre-history of mining for metals is poorly understood. A number of reasons may be postulated such as the re-working of mine sites with the consequent loss of early mining evidence, urbanization, particularly within coastal regions of the world, and changes in vegetation coverage. This study examines the ability of space-bome remote sensing technologies to detect potential ancient mineral extraction and processing sites with a view to understanding the regional impact of mineral extraction over areas too large to be amenable to conventional archaeological survey techniques. A determinative and comparative analytical methodology of how ancient mines may be detected, surveyed, and analyzed using space-borne remote sensing technology, chiefly multipolarimetric Space Shuttle Imaging RADAR, was employed. This methodology used three elements, polarimetric RADAR analysis of mine sites, examination of performance characteristics within three distinctly different climatic environments, as well as modeling and visual ization of mines within their geoarchaeological landscapes. The sites studied were South Ardachy, Scotland, Serabit El Khadim in the Sinai, and Conil, Spain. The selection of mining regions was based on a number of factors, including commentaries of classical writers, mine types, climatic conditions, the availability of Space Shuttle Imaging RADAR data, CORONA satellite data, and Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) data. The results of the comparative investigation between the C and L RADAR bands using phase difference analysis at the South Ardachy and Conil ancient mine sites were unable to determine a specific reflecting surface type due to low sensor resolution and the unique shapes of the mines; the Serabit El Khadim mine site did not possess dual polarimetric data and could not be analysed. Decibel responses for both C and L RADAR bands performed within known standards in their various polarimetric modes and were shown to be unaffected by the various climates. All three sites were modeled and visualized three-dimensionally to demonstrate the capability of Imaging RADAR to map geoarchaeological landscapes and to display the extent of landscape change due to mining extraction and processing. This study demonstrated the potential of space-borne remote sensing for archaeological prospection and discovery on regional and continental scales.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available