Archaeology's Cold War Windfall - The CORONA Programme and Lost Landscapes of the Near East

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K. Challis (2007), JBIS, 60, 21-27

Refcode: 2007.60.21
Keywords: Archaeology, satellite remote sensing, CORONA, intelligence imagery

On the 12th August 1960 the airborne capture of 3000 ft of exposed film from the return capsule of the Discoverer XIV mission signalled the start of the United States satellite reconnaissance programme. The approximately 860,000 images collected between 1960 and the last CORONA mission, in May 1972, proved a revolution in intelligence gathering; the Cold War arsenal of the Soviet Union was laid bare. Since its declassification by Executive Order in 1995 the archive of high- resolution CORONA satellite photography has offered archaeologists a retrospective look at the ancient landscapes of the Near East, captured on film over a decade before the first (low resolution) civilian satellite imagery. This paper will consider the potential of CORONA intelligence satellite photography for archaeological studies and discuss two examples of its use for investigating the ancient landscape of the Near East, in Syria and Iran.

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