8,000 years of hidden human history uncovered in the Middle East

Settlements 000 Method Menze

How do you map the expansion of Earth's earliest civilizations? For years, researchers have tackled this overwhelming job on a settlement-by-settlement basis, searching for clues in mounds of earth through the Center East.

But now, scientists have turned to satellite imagery to uncover a huge network of over 14,000 long-overlooked Mesopotamian settlements, spanning 8,000 years of ancient civilization. Their findings symbolize a monumental step ahead for the fields of archeology and anthropology, and advise that an aerial point of view might keep the important to unlocking the mysteries of humanity's first major settlements.

A important human body of archaeological evidence suggests that the earliest civilizations arose in Mesopotamia, the geographic region that today includes Iraq, northeast Syria, southeast Turkey and southwest Iran. The dimension and distribution of these settlements during the Mesopotamian panorama, however, has long remained a thing of a mystery.

Traditional archeological tactics call for researchers to search for evidence of these historical civilizations up close, at the floor stage. This is an outstanding method for understanding about individual settlements, but is a painstaking way to make feeling of how these communities may possibly have interacted with one another, or spread across the panorama over time.

That is the place Harvard archeologist Jason Ur and MIT computer scientist Bjoern Menze arrive in. By combining spy-satellite photographs acquired during the sixties with modern day pictures of the Earth's surface, Menze and Ur have devised a new method of mapping styles of human settlements at an unprecedented scale.

Ur and Menze lately used their new method to map upwards of fourteen,000 formerly ignored settlements, distributed over 23,000 sq. kilometers of Mesopotamian panorama ( via io9.com ).

MORE: Israel authorizes 3,000 new settlements in the occupied territories

MORE: First Hi-Res Interactive 360 degree panorama from Mars Curiosity Rover