Friday, August 19, 2011
Events of the recent past have not been kind to the archaeology of Iraq. Massive agricultural works and the expansion of modern cities (and, in some cases, large-scale illicit excavation) have altered many sites and landscapes beyond recognition. As we compare historical aerial photographs with recent satellite images, it's gratifying to find sites where the archaeology appears to have survived relatively unscathed. This is part of the incredible sprawling ruins of the Islamic period city north of Samarra, which seems to have changed little since it was photographed in 1918 by pilots of the Royal Air Force. This image and hundreds from the same time period are now housed in the National Archives, London.