Space Exploration Leads to the Preservation of Cultural Heritage

In the last couple of classes, the discussions included debate surrounding the advancement of space exploration and its importance to archeology. Some of my peers were under the impression that space exploration does not correlate with our current archeological practices. However, as our understanding and examination of outer space progresses we can interpret the history of Earth with increased accuracy. A couple of the technologies that are used by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration are satellites and robotics. The main satellite used by NASA is the International Space Station. Part of the function of these instruments is to take photographs from space to provide an alternative perspective to supplement our current knowledge. For example, the ​​satellites that are used by NASA use “radio waves to send signals”(What is a satellite? 2023) back to antennas on Earth. The information that is sent in these radio waves consists of “scientific data”(What is a satellite? 2023) such as the photographs taken by the satellite. This information is an important supplement to Archeologists since it provides a new angle to archeological sites not visible from the ground. In particular, this data facilitates the protection and conservation of cultural heritage sites. For instance, as the number of ​​satellites in orbit increases, the frequency at which archeologists receive data will also increase.

Figure 1. This image shows an example of a NASA satellite orbiting around the Earth. (NASA to Showcase Earth Science Data at COP28 2023)

As a result, institutions like UNESCO can “identify potential threats to sites”(Rössler 2021) and alert proper authorities to resolve possible problems. Additionally, these images can predict the trajectory of environmental events and archeologists can take action if there are signs of harm. This is beneficial to the field of archeology because previously unpredictable tragedies that would destroy ancient sites and artifacts can now be preserved thanks to the implementation of space exploration. Furthermore, the continuing use of outer space will allow archaeologists to observe the extent to which external factors have on archaeological sites. The United Nations has used satellite imagery to examine differences from “a “before and after” scenario.” (Satellite Imagery Helping, n.d.) This could be extremely useful for the future of archaeology since it is unpredictable when catastrophic events may occur. If tragic sudden events happen, archeologists will be able to know the extent to which archeological sites were damaged. This advanced assessment will provide archaeologists with ample knowledge so that they can support restoration efforts after unfortunate and unexpected events occur. By archeologists having access to this information it will make their responses to these events quicker since they have a new perspective on what they already know.

Figure 2. This image shows the advancement over time of a city from an arial perspective photo taken by a satellite. (Ramirez 2017)


“NASA to Showcase Earth Science Data at COP28 – Climate Change: Vital Signs of the Planet.” NASA, November 29, 2023.

Ramirez, Fernando. “Google Timelapse Shows How Texas Cities Changed over 30 Years.” CHRON, December 8, 2017.

Rössler, UNESCO World Heritage. “N°98 – Monitoring World Heritage from Space.” UNESCO World Heritage Centre – World Heritage, April 2021.

“Satellite Imagery Helping to Monitor Cultural Heritage Sites under Threat.” UNITAR. Accessed December 3, 2023.

“What Is a Satellite?” NASA, July 25, 2023.

Further Readings:

Lithics from Greece contour hominin development throughout time.

Recent class discussions have consisted of explaining the importance and impact of lithics on archeological discoveries. The term lithic is derived from ancient Greek and means rock. This is why lithic technology can be defined as certain techniques that are used to produce various categories of stone tools. The first stone tools from two and a half million years before the present can be characterized as simplistic and non-selective. However, as time progressed significant additions were made to lithics further enhancing hominins’ ability to manipulate these stone tools to their benefit. Early lithics are smaller sections of stone that were produced by striking two stones together. This type of lithic is uniface, meaning that only one side of the stone had been flaked. Whereas the lithics that are more recent are biface tools meaning that two sides have been flaked. The resulting tool has a distinct purpose for each side. In addition, lithics began to be produced with stones of higher quality and structure leading to stronger tools. Furthermore, lithics began to become more symmetrical which shows that hominins underwent adaptations progressively. As time continued to progress lithic technology became even more advanced resulting in different facets of stone stools. Stone tools morphed from uncomplicated scrapers to intricate arrowheads. As hominins progressed, the tools that they used became more complex to keep up with their more elaborate lifestyle. Determining factors of more recent lithics are the bulb point near the bottom of the stone. The bulb point was formed as a result of a stone being struck against another hard surface. These identifiers are crucial in determining the period in which a certain lithic was used. Lastly, these devices molded human advancement and contributed to the development of hominins.

Figure 1. This image is depicting the anatomy of a lithic and providing a variety of views to fully understand how a lithic is developed. (Cambridge University Press & Assessment 2013)

Lithics are being discovered all throughout the world. Recently expert archaeologists: Panagiotis Karkanas, Eleni Panagopoulou, and Katerina Harvati found lithics that are from a “quarter of a million years before present.”(Paphitis 2023) The artifacts were unearthed from a site in the infamous “Megalopolis region of modern Greece.”(Paphitis 2023) These scientists reported that “rough stone tools”(Paphitis 2023) were observed at the site. Since these artifacts were simple stone tools that had sharp flakes it uncovers that they are from the “Lower Paleolithic stone tool industry.”(Paphitis 2023) The tools’ distinct shape and clear edges prove that the tools’ main purpose was for slaughtering and preparation of meals. Also, these tools aided the cultivation process of other plant and animal matter for hominin consumption.

Figure 2. This image shows the lithics that archaeologists Panagiotis Karkanas, Eleni Panagopoulou, and Katerina Harvati uncovered at their site in Greece. (American School of Classical Studies at Athens 2023)


Paphitis, Nicholas. “Newly discovered stone tools drag dawn of Greek archaeology back by a
quarter-million years.” ABC News. Last modified June 1, 2023. Accessed October 1, 2023.

Shea, John J. “Lithics Basics.” Cambridge University Press & Assessment. Last modified March 5,
2013. Accessed October 1, 2023.

“Newly discovered stone tools drag dawn of Greek archaeology back by a quarter-million years.”
American School of Classical Studies at Athens. Last modified June 2, 2023. Accessed October 1,2023.

Further Readings: