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Proceedings of Symposium on Remote Sensing and Photo Interpretation

A number of military pilots reported the sighting of probable archeological
sites while on wartime missions, particularly in the Mediterranean theater of
operations. After 1945, these reports were followed up, resulting in many new
discoveries of ancient roads, villages, and forts—not only in the Mediterranean,
but also in Europe and Africa. As an example, the Etruscan tombs north of Rome
were photographed and mapped during this postwar period. An excellent summary
of early developments in aerial archeology has been prepared by Deuel (1969).
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Archeology in the Americas
The beginnings of aerial archeology in the western hemisphere were her
alded by exploratory flights made in 1930 over the Yucatan peninsula of Mexico.
These visual reconnaissance flights, conducted by Charles Lindbergh, resulted
in only limited successes because of insufficient advance planning and dense,
masking ground cover. Nevertheless, a few important sites were located, and
the attendant publicity that was generated induced several foundations and
universities to send archeological expeditions into Mexico and South America.
Since 1934, a majority of the site discoveries in these regions has been made
through aerial reconnaissance and/or photographic interpretation.
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In spite of technological advances, the applications of aerial archeology
have been limited in the United States until the past few years. Perhaps this
is a reflection of our greater interest in the present than in our ancestry,
but there are probably other reasons also. Among these are (1) the relatively
short period of established human settlement, (2) the feeling that many, if
not most, sites have already been described, and (3) the attitude that more
impressive sites are likely to be found outside USA boundaries. Whether these
are valid generalizations can only be determined by the future.
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The following selective listing includes some of the better known sites
in the USA that were discovered, delineated, or mapped through aerial techniques:
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1932—Photographic evidence of effigy sites (giant Indian pictographs) on bluffs
above the Colorado River near Blythe, California.
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1932—Delineation of Hohokam Indian irrigation canals in southern Arizona.
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1948—Mapping of Zuni and Hopi Indian pueblos in Arizona and New Mexico.
ground ot
1953—Detailed site mapping of concentric banks of earthworks (part of mound
complex) near Poverty Point, Louisiana.
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1959—Discovery of village sites in the Alaskan tundra.
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1965—Discovery and delineation of fortified village sites along the Missouri
River in South Dakota.
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1968—Discovery of prehistoric Indian agricultural plots (by infrared scanning)
in northern Arizona.
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1970-73—Discovery and mapping of ancient roadways and Indian pueblos in the
vicinty of Chaco Canyon, New Mexico.
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