Friday, August 04, 2006

Remote sensing update Australian archaeologists find ancient settlement in Syria

Australian archaeologists have used American spy satellite images to find the remains of ancient human settlements in Syria.

The researchers, led by Australian National University PhD student Mandy Mottram, say the declassified images from the 1960s allowed them to predict where ruins were hidden beneath the ground.

Ms Mottram says the remains of pottery factories, tombs and an ancient basilica were among the finds in an area northeast of Syria's second largest city, Aleppo, in the Euphrates River valley.

She says the basilica may have tumbled at some stage during an earthquake because there were a couple of large earthquakes that hit the region in medieval times.

"But it's still got walls preserved and it quite possibly was part of a monastic community which existed on the top of this mountain," she said.

Ms Mottram's team hopes to establish a record of human occupation dating back 1 million years.

That's the whole thing.