Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Technological innovation to detect illegal logging -- why not something similar for archaeological sites?

A physicist, engineer, and inventor, has come up with an ingenious new method of detecting illegal logging activity in the Amazon in real time using old cell phones. There are obviously some differences between archaeological sites and trees that make it impractical to simply do the exact same thing: for one thing, chain saws are a lot louder. And in war-torn areas it might be impossible (ISIS will kill you if they find you carrying a GPS-equipped phone, for instance).  But in general this is the sort of technological innovation that I have been argued for quite some time should be sought after in order to supplement/complement efforts to police archaeological sites. Establishing a prize for the development of some such monitoring technology would incentivize the search. There are plenty of possible funders of such a prize, ranging from wealthy collectors such as Shelby White, to dealers such as James Ede, to the owners of tourism agencies, to well-funded archaeological institutions such as the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World. 

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