Satellite tech for mapping cultural roots in Qatar

Satellite tech for mapping cultural roots in Qatar


Qatar – Qatar has become the first country in the region to implement Global Imagery System for archeological studies. The Qatar Museums Authority (QMA) in collaboration with the University of Birmingham, United Kingdom, launched a research programme to study the ancient landscape of the country, yesterday.

The research involves the use of remote sensors and geospatial modeling to reconstruct the former onshore and offshore landscape environments in Qatar. “The research will involve reconstructing shorelines using satellite,” said Sheikh Hassan bin Mohamed Al Thani, Vice Chairman, QMA. “There is no parallel to this kind of research in the region.”

The study can help in understanding the cultural and social roots of the country and can become the base for any further research in the field.

Understanding the spatial distribution and character of the archeological past is essential for long term cultural management, conservation and education. The development of a world class Historic Environment Record will be a major step forward and help to guide future research across a range of disciplines.

Study involves regions which are under the sea, so it is impossible to use traditional techniques of archeological prospection, which involves use of high-tech instruments for the non-destructive localisation and documentation of archaeological sites and monuments. “There is a strong data base for the research,” said Richard Cuttler, Senior Project Manager from the University of Birmingham. “Much of the data is from studies done for oil exploration and seismic researches. There is a huge amount of such data available.”

According to Birmingham officials Qatar 10,000 years ago was much different from that we have today. “The land was once wet not arid as today,” said Keith Challis, GIS and Remote Sensing Research Fellow at the university. “Also the whole Arabian Gulf was once open land and people might have settled in these areas. Trade routes also might have existed. Much of the area is now lost and more are buried by the sand dunes.The rising sea levels associated with global climatic warming following the end of the Ice Age drowned these landscapes, it has also preserved them,” he said.

This project will gather and combine a range of geological, archeological and remotely sensed satellite imagery data, seismic and bathymetric data collected offshore from the present sea bed.
These data will be used to reconstruct these former landscape and environments inhibited by these early human settlers. Once done, it could also revamp the whole history of the nation written so far.