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Spies, Satellites and Archaeology: Monitoring Cultural Heritage

Event poster

AIA Lecture Series, Kershaw Lectures in Near East Archaeology

Speaker: Scott Branting, University of Central Florida

During World War I and World War II, archaeologists functioned within the fledgling intelligence communities as agents, analysts, and supervisors.  They had local knowledge and technical expertise useful for advancing their countries’ wartime agendas.  From that time on, new technologies that emerged for use by the intelligence community have often been used by archaeologists to drive advances in their own research programs.  The ongoing conflict in Syria and Iraq, accompanied by an alarming scale and rate of cultural heritage destruction, has opened a new chapter in collaboration between archaeologists and governments.  Enhanced access to satellite imagery, through projects such as ASOR’s Cultural Heritage Initiatives collaboration with the US Department of State, allows unprecedented levels of monitoring of cultural heritage sites.  This talk will explore some of these historical connections as well as the new technologies that are reshaping how we view, and hopefully protect, our cultural heritage.