University of Alabama Birmingham scientists employing a new type of infra-red imaging have discovered 17 lost pyramids and more than 1,000 tombs in the deserts of Egypt.
The astonishing results, which also include finding 3,100 ancient settlements, have been confirmed by archaeologists with picks and shovels, who have located two of the pyramids found from space, according to The Telegraph.
For more than a year a team led by Sarah Parcak, an Egyptologist and assistant professor of archaeology at UAB, used a combination of NASA and commercial satellites that orbited above the earth to capture the images of Egyptian antiquities, according to information released by the university.
She was able to uncover sites that had been invisible – including a world of houses, tombs and pyramids. Once the images were discovered via satellite, a team of French excavators confirmed what Parcak saw in the images from space, the school added.
“I could see the data as it was emerging, but for me the ‘aha’ moment was when I could step back and look at everything that we’d found,” Parcak told the BBC. “I couldn’t believe we could locate so many sites all over Egypt.”
The team analysed images from satellites orbiting 435 miles above the Earth, equipped with cameras so powerful they can pinpoint objects less than a yard in diameter, according to The Telegraph. Infra-red imaging was then used to highlight different materials under the surface.
Ancient Egyptians built houses from mud brick, which is much denser than surrounding soil, meaning it left a clear indication, enabling researchers to identify tombs, pyramids and homes.
Parcak believes there are many more buildings buried deeper than those already spotted – even under the River Nile, according to the publication.
“These are just the sites close to the surface,” she said. “There are many thousands of additional sites that the Nile has covered over with silt.”
The discovery will be revealed in the BBC documentary Egypt’s Lost Cities, which airs on the BBC Monday, but will not be shown in the United States.
The Discovery Channel will air its own version of Parcak’s story with new revelations later this summer in the US, according to UAB.