CAMEL Projects

CAMEL engages in a number of landscape-scale research and cultural heritage projects. The goals of these projects include:

  • to train graduate and undergraduate students in the use of geographical information systems (GIS) for archaeological, historical, and cultural heritage research,
  • to provide student research, publication, and presentation opportunities, and
  • to collaboratively develop innovative methods and approaches within the field of Near Eastern landscape archaeology. 

Please see individual linked pages for the projects (some are under construction):

Current Projects

Archaeological Heritage: The Afghan Heritage Mapping Project

Department of State-funded project with database-building, heritage analysis, landscape archaeology, and Afghan training components.

Historical Aerial and Satellite Imagery: New Data Sources, Mapping Desert Kites, and Generating Historical DEMS

CAMEL has been at the forefront of efforts to access and utilize new sources of historical imagery that were recently declassified in 2013, particularly U2 aerial imagery (mostly captured 1959-1960) and HEXAGON satellite imagery (captured 1971-1984). CAMEL has most extensively used these new sources of historical imagery for a project focused on desert kites (mass-kill traps) and other stone structures preserved on the surface of the basalt desert (harra) of eastern Jordan. The lab also has a methodology project that refines ways of generating historical topographical models from CORONA imagery (high resolution images from the late 1960s and 1970s). 

Desert Kite U2
"Jellyfish-shaped" desert kite in eastern Jordan surrounded by other stone features,
U2 photograph from January 1960.

Emily NARA
Emily Hammer collects Hexagon imagery at the National Archives in Greenbelt, Maryland, May 2015.

Sederekqala hexagon
An irrigation canal extending from an Iron Age fortress surveyed by Emily Hammer in Naxçıvan, Azerbaijan. Hexagon, November 1972.

GIS and Historical Geography: The Anatolian Atlas Project

CAMEL is building an online atlas of Anatolian archaeological sites that can serve as a useful research tool as well as a venue for displaying new research. Graduate student Joshua Cannon and undergraduate researcher Rolland Long are creating a website that displays geographic and bibliographic data on central Anatolian archaeological sites in order to highlight and re-assess debates in historical geography for the Hittite period. [website coming soon]

Hands-on Training in Archaeological Survey Techniques

The CAMEL lab provides training in the use of total stations, geophysical survey equipment, drone photography, and photogrammetry.  

Past Projects (since 2014)

"Persepolis from the Air"

Using 1936 aerial photographs taken by Erich Schmidt, CAMEL created a 3D model of the World Heritage site of Persepolis, Iran, at the time of its first excavations. This project was led by then-graduate student Jennifer Altman-Lupu. A video of the model is currently on display in the Persepolis: Images of an Empire exhibit in the Institute for the Study of Ancient Cultures Museum, as well as on the Institute for the Study of Ancient Cultures YouTube channel. The data used for the project has been made available through a page on Harvard World Map.

Persepolis 1936
A 1936 aerial photograph of Persepolis taken by Erich Schmidt.
Persepolis 3D
The 3D model of Persepolis developed from archival photographs.