Using Remote Sensing to understand and preserve our cultural heritage

Until archaeological evidence to the contrary was unearthed, the story of the Trojan war in Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey was considered a fable. Much the same is true of how the tsunami that hit India’s Eastern coast in 2004 changed what was thought of the legend of Mahabalipuram’s seven pagodas. Could we use technology to look into the past? Could using the power of satellite imaging, say, obviate the need for tsunamis in archaeology?

Dr. M. B. Rajani, from NIAS, uses space/air based remote sensing images to interpreting earth’s surface and subsurface features in order to extract information that enhances our understanding of the archaeology of an area. She will talk to us about using remote sensing in history and archaeology, on Wednesday the 24th of May, at 5pm at Kanada Auditorium.

An abstract from the speaker follows.


Scientific developments and emerging technologies have provided new tools
to study ancient material and decipher the past. One such powerful tool is
Remote Sensing (RS), which uses aerial and space platforms to view landscapes
in both visible and invisible (infrared, microwave, etc.) wavelengths, and also
help in 3-D landscape modeling. Being purely non-invasive, this technology
leaves sites untouched for the future. This talk will use case studies including
Mahabalipuram and Srirangapatna to illustrate how RS can be used in the
context of cultural heritage sites in two ways: (1) to reveal new insights about
their past, and (2) to help formulate management plans for preserving them
from the ever-increasing threat of development. While there are several
positive consequences of India’s industrial growth, expanding transportation
networks, villages, towns and cities, these activities can cause irrevocable
damage (directly or indirectly) to India’s rich archaeological heritage.
This talk will demonstrate how RS can play an important role in formulating
plans to limit such harm in the future.

About the Speaker:

Rajani did her doctoral research in the field of space-based archaeological investigations at the National Institute of Advanced Studies (NIAS), Bangalore, and was awarded a PhD by the University of Mysore in 2011. She received the Rachapudi Kamakshi Memorial Young Geospatial Scientist Award for this work. She conducted post-doctoral research for a year at NIAS, and then was an Assistant Professor in the M. Tech GIS programme at NIIT University (NU), Neemrana from 2011 to 2013. Her recent work includes a study of the archaeological remains in the environs of Nalanda as a Fellow of Nalanda University (2013-2014).


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