Mapping Archaeological Landscapes from Space

Volume 5 of the series SpringerBriefs in Archaeology pp 97-110


Archaeological Remote Sensing in Jordan’s Faynan Copper Mining District with Hyperspectral Imagery

  • Stephen H. SavageAffiliated withArizona State University
  • , Thomas E. LevyAffiliated withUC San Diego
  • , Ian W. JonesAffiliated withUC San Diego

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Hyperspectral (multiple, narrow band) satellite imaging provides a useful discovery and analytical tool for archaeologists. The Hyperion instrument, flying on the Earth Observer 1 (EO-1) satellite, was launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base on November 21, 2000. Hyperion provides 242 (196 calibrated) narrow bands in the visible (VIS) to shortwave infrared range (SWIR), enabling detailed archaeological and geological analyses. We analyzed a Hyperion image swath targeted on Khirbat en-Nahas (KEN), an ancient copper smelting site along the Wadi al-Ghuwayb (WAG) in Jordan’s Faynan district, where extensive ore processing occurred from the third millennium B.C.E. to industrial scale production over several centuries in the early first millennium B.C.E. (Iron Age) and continued until Medieval Islamic times. We use a combination of Principal Components Analysis (PCA), similarity matrices, and Spectral Mixture Analysis (SMA) to locate additional ore processing sites and discern depositional differences that may help illuminate issues related to the organization of production at KEN. Extensive field surveys in the research area provide a unique opportunity to “ground truth” the results of the hyperspectral research. Our results show considerable promise for future work with Hyperion


Hyperion Iron age copper mining Jordan Spectral mixture analysis Principle components analysis