Scientists have used satellite images to locate previously-unkown human settlements in Syria. Harvard archeologist Jason Ur and MIT computer scientist Bjoern Menze have combined spy-satellite photos acquired during the 1960s with modern images of the Earth's surface, and thus have devised a new method of mapping patterns of human settlements at an unprecedented scale. They recently used their new technique to map upwards of 14,000 previously overlooked settlements, distributed over 23,000 square kilometers of Mesopotamian landscape. Their method of aerial analysis relies on the detection of anthrosol, a distinctive type of soil that forms in the presence of long-term human activity. Read the full story on io9.com.
Ur was a major city, and later the capital, of the Sumerian Empire in southern Mesopotamia. Its location near the sea made it a center of commerce and trade routes. Between 2030-1980 BCE, Ur was the world's largest city, boasting about 65,000 inhabitants within its walls. The city featured many glorious temples and tombs. Today, the site is recognizable... [continue reading]
The area designated by the word has changed over time. Classically, Syria lies at the eastern end of the Mediterranean, between Egypt and Arabia to the south and Cilicia to the north, stretching inland to include Mesopotamia, and having an uncertain border to the northeast that Pliny the Elder describes as including, from west to east, Commagene, Sophene... [continue reading]