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Originally posted by KilgoreTrout
reply to post by Cherry0
This is an interesting short piece about the work of Farouk El Baz which led to the tapping of a number of wells in the Sahara, the radar imagery of the former riverbeds is amazing, and as detailed, has been successfully used to access underground water repeatedly.
Another good documentary was one that covered the work of Sarah Parcak who has used satellite images to map Ancient Egypt...
From 2003 to 2004, Parcak used a combination of satellite imaging analysis and surface surveys in the possible detection of 132 archaeological sites, some dating back to 3,000 B.C. In her latest work, Parcak tested several types of satellite imagery to look for water sources within the arid region of the Sinai, East Delta and Middle Egypt, determining possible archaeological sites. According to Parcak this approach reduces the time and cost for determining archaeological sites compared to surface detection.
In May 2011 the BBC aired a documentary, Egypt's Lost Cities, describing BBC sponsored research carried out by Parcak's UAB team for over a year using infra-red satellite imaging from commercial and NASA satellites. The programme discussed the research and showed Parcak in Egypt looking for physical evidence. The UAB team announced that they had discovered 17 pyramids, more than 1,000 tombs and 3,000 ancient settlements outside Sa el-Hagar, Egypt.
The release by the BBC of an announcement before the broadcast was criticised by the then Minister of State for Antiquities, Zahi Hawass. In a statement on his blog he wrote "I was very pleased to be involved with this project", but he criticized the announcement before the programme was broadcast, saying it had not yet been checked by his Ministry which is charged with approving any such announcements and pointed out inaccuracies in the article's content. Dr Hawass said "No one can say with certainty that the features displayed under the sand are actually pyramids". The BBC sent a telegram to Hawass explaining that the announcement had not been approved or released by the BBC Satellite Project.
Unfortunately I cannot find a link to that, but what she found was that there were numerous signs of small settlement reaching out into the Sahara which over time had most likely been abandoned as activity became more and more clustered around the Nile. This indicates that the Sahara was once able to support small scale agriculture. Much like happened in China, with deruralisation, much of this land then suffered desertification due to not being maintained, although it probably began with the initial deforestation that is part of the neolithic mode of establishing argicultural settlements. Additionally, as we still see today, the urban sprawl often leads to smaller tributaries being blocked off or rerouted to make way for housing further increasing the dependency of those in outlying to move nearer to the major water source. All of which, combined, has a knock on effect in the creation of weather systems, thus diminishing rainfall, the removal of large bodies of trees being a pivotal factor in that respect, combined with the associated degradation of the mycorrhiza which helps transport nutrients and to 'bind' soil.
The current situation in Hungary provides a clear demonstration of this process in motion, that while the land can be maintained for many generations, will under certain climatic changes, find it hard to adapt to those changes, and result in the onset of desertification.