Tuesday 27 September 2011

Let the flying begin

The long wait for our next flying season is almost over. David, Simon and myself have arrived in Jordan and have pitched base camp in the laboratory of the British Institute in Amman. We set out for Marka Air Force Base at 5:30am tomorrow morning (most archaeological sites appear at their best in raking morning light), and will fly over more than 100 targets in the north-west corner of Jordan, photographing many of them from the air for the first time.

The British Institute in Amman from above

David has sent me his list of target sites for this flight, some of which he has noted from academic articles and reports, and others that have been requested by researchers interested in specific aspects of Jordan's history. We are also revisiting several sites - including Jarash (ancient Gerasa) and Umm el Jimal ('The Mother of Camels' - a roman town) - that we have already photographed, to record new excavations and details the impact of continuing development that affects many sites in Jordan.

Route planning using Google Earth

All of these sites are put into an overall flight plan using MacGPS pro, and are then loaded into our two avionic GPS units, which allow us to navigate and direct the pilots to each site in turn. We generally fly in a circle over each site to allow us to photograph it from every angle. We aim to have the photographs up on our online archive as soon as possible (usually within a couple of days), so keep an eye out for these!

Simon Rutter tests out one of our Nikon D70s in preparation for the next morning's flight

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