Our principal tool is Google Earth, although this is supplemented by satellite imagery on Bing and Here.com, particularly in instances where there is no high-resolution imagery available in Google Earth, as well as historic imagery from sources such as the Corona Atlas. When a site is identified we often use the historic satellite imagery held on Google Earth to assess whether there has been any change in the condition of a site. For instance, at the Pharaonic chert quarry of Wadi Araba/Wadi Umm Nikhaybar in Egypt, which may be have been in use from the Old Kingdom period, a small fortification was identified on Google Earth. Imagery from June 2010 demonstrated that the site was well preserved (Figure 1), but imagery from October 2010 indicated that the eastern corner had been badly damaged by a bulldozing event (Figure 2).
This region of the Eastern Desert is heavily quarried for aggregates, and it is likely that the site was damaged by speculative investigations for underlying minerals, hence only a small section of the fortification was affected. However, the site remains endangered, as the sections exposed by bulldozing are open to looting as well as increased probability of natural weathering.
Each day on the project brings up new sites, issues and challenges, and by bringing these to wider public attention we aim to reduce the threats to the heritage of this region in the future.