While many news reports exist about archaeological site looting in Egypt following its January 2011 Revolution, no one had yet examined the issue of how looting patterns changed over time across the country or at distinct archaeological sites. This study uses rapidly tasked high resolution satellite images from 2009–2013 to assess looting at three important regions: The pyramid fields (from Abusir to Dashur), el Hibeh, and Lisht. We mapped looting pits and their areas to assess overall change in looting patterns, and noted an increase of over 500% over the three year time period. While open source tools like Google Earth are useful for longer term looting mapping projects, we suggest that rapidly tasked commercial satellite imagery can provide near real-time looting evaluation of sites. Ground truthing visits are described here, as well as potential solutions via collaborative programs in partnership with Egypt's Ministry of Antiquities.
Sarah Parcak is an Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) and is the founding director of the UAB Laboratory for Global Observation. Parcak has written “Satellite Remote Sensing for Archaeology” (Routledge 2009) and numerous peer-reviewed scientific articles. Her remote sensing work has been the focus of two BBC 1 specials on the use of satellite remote sensing in archaeology. Parcak is a National Geographic Society Archaeology Fellow, a Fellow in the Society of Antiquaries, a 2014 TED Senior Fellow, a co-director of the Survey and Excavation Projects in Egypt with her husband, Dr. Greg Mumford, and Director of the Joint Mission to Lisht.
- AAAS. 2014. American Association for the Advancement of Science, Ancient History, Modern Destruction: Assessing the Current Status of Syria's World Heritage Sites Using High-Resolution Satellite Imagery: http://www.aaas.org/page/ancient-history-modern-destruction-assessing-current-status-syria%E2%80%99s-world-heritage-sites-using (accessed October 14, 2014).
- Casana, Jesse and Mitra Panahipour. 2014 Notes on a Disappearing Past: Satellite-Based Monitoring of Looting and Damage to Archaeological Sites in Syria. Journal of Eastern Mediterranean and Heritage Studies 2(2): 128–51.
- Contreras, Daniel and Neil Brodie. 2010. The Utility of Publicly-Available Satellite Imagery for Investigating Looting of Archaeological Sites in Jordan. Journal of Field Archaeology 35(1): 101–14.
- El Dorry, Menna. 2011. Why Do People Loot? The Case of the Egyptian Revolution. al-Rawi Egypt's Heritage Review (2) 2011: 20–28.
- Hanna, Monica. 2013. What Has Happened to Egyptian Heritage after the 2011 Unfinished Revolution. Journal of Eastern Mediterranean Archaeology and Heritage Studies 1 (4): 371–75.
- Ikram, Salima and Monica Hanna. 2013. Looting and Land Grabbing: The Current Situation in Egypt. Bulletin of the American Research Center in Egypt 202: 34–39.
- Ikram, Salima. 2013. Cultural Heritage in Times of Crisis. Journal of Eastern Mediterranean Archaeology Heritage Studies 1 (4): 366–71.
- Marchant, Jo. 2011. Egypt's Outgoing Antiquities Chief Warns Heritage is at Risk. Nature (updated July 5, 2012): http://www.nature.com/news/2011/110307/full/news.2011.146.html, (accessed October 14, 2014).
- Parcak, Sarah. 2007. Going, Going, Gone: Towards a Satellite Remote Sensing Methodology for Monitoring Archaeological Tell Sites under Threat in the Middle East. Journal of Field Archaeology 42: 61–83.
- Parcak, Sarah. 2008. Satellite Remote Sensing for Archaeology. Routledge, London.
- Parcak, Sarah, David Gathings, Chase Childs, Gregory Mumford, and Eric Cline. 2016. Satellite Evidence of Archaeological Site looting in Egypt: 2002–2013. Antiquity.
- Stanton, Chris. 2011. Egyptian Army Boosts Security at Museums and Archaeological Sites, Feb 1: http://www.thenational.ae/news/world/middle-east/egyptian-army-boosts-security-at-museums-and-archaeological-sites (accessed April 15, 2015).
- Stone, Elizabeth. 2008. Patterns of Looting in Southern Iraq. Antiquity 82: 125–38.