Looking Back: Unessay Project Overview

The goal of my Unessay Project: Surveying Among the Stars: Account of an emerging technology, under review, was to examine current literature with a critical lens whilst learning about current developments in the world of Archaeology. The basis of my research was rooted in the book, Archaeology from Space: How the Future Shapes our Past by Sarah Parcak. Parcak’s publication stands as a testimony to the incredible possibilities of the field of space Archaeology.
The culmination of this venture I undertook was a book review blog post.

ARCHAEOLOGY FROM SPACE: HOW THE FUTURE SHAPES OUR PAST, by Sarah Parcak, 2019, Henry Holt and Co., New York, NY, 283 pages, $14.99 (Hardcover), $14.99 (Kindle).

To explain why this for my Unessay project, I will start by saying: I love reading. Through inquiry for book recommendations, one of my awesome professors, a renowned contemporary archaeologist, answered my plea. Parcak’s book was indeed on her list. After searching the title, reading the summary, and conducting preliminary research in the field (findings, its history), I came across mention of  its employment in “espionage”. I was, to say the least: VERY intrigued. For those that did not know me as a child, I was at one point, along with wanting to be a baker and ballerina, wanted to be a Spy (thank you, Mr. Robert Rodriguez). As I am now pursuing nursing – and further understanding the realness of danger that surrounds the field (and my inability to really keep a secret, or to lie), one can safely assume that this occupational prospect is behind me. But, indeed Parcak made me pause and reminisce this time of my life (see Declassified Satellite Imagery-1). Beyond this particular fascination: having always been dazzled by the stars, interested in learning about technological advancements, the concept of mapping, and lastly, research, I was pretty much sold. This book is relevant as it covers contemporary methods that in which not only uncover ancient sites, but also redefine current understandings/assumptions. In doing this project and related research I hoped to gain a better understanding of the current and emerging technological ventures.

In my research I learned about numerous methods employed through the usage of space archaeology. Furthermore, I learned of instances of their application as well as the fruit of those labors. Every piece of the harvest, whether it being the uncovering of walls (Parcak 2019: 54), unearthing of carnelian (59), or new iteration of a past history (60), was poignant. These pieces, resulting from either preliminary Google Earth “traverses”, processing, then reprocessing of satellite data, or from examining satellite databases for local imagery after poring over numerous regional excavation and survey reports (54-55), although intensive, was able to cut down time, energy and resource expenditure, and overall “guesswork”. That being said, it must be noted that these are just a few findings across only a tiny fraction of this work.
In the closing sentence of her introduction she says:

“Perhaps it is a start to understanding what makes us human: our ability to ask how, where, when, why, and who, and creating the tools we need to bring the answers to life, on Earth, looking down from outer space”

(Sarah Parcak 2019:9)

When first reading, I found this statement quite “hopeful”. But from the trove of testaments that in which I was able to read for myself (and hope you would consider reading for yourself), this proposition seems less like idealized speculation, and more like a claim rooted in reason. 

As my Final Unessay Project’s final form was a book review blog post, I approached it through a critical lens, engaging in strategies to develop my critical reading and evaluating skills. As I read this book and came across methods, locations, histories, or peoples that I knew very little to zilch about, I found myself digging deeper than usual into sources. Where I would once stop at a dictionary or a webpage, I looked into textbooks, government-based articles, databases and news sources. I linked a number of them in my blog post along with accompanying images. If your knowledge base was “premature” as mine was, hopefully they will prove useful, and/or interesting to you.

In the end, I took away a deeper, greater, more-informed interest in the emerging field that is space archaeology. I came away with a stronger skill/tool set of critical reading and evaluation strategies, and greater familiarity with archaeological research and writing. Furthermore, in learning of all of the long-employed as well as novel-innovated archaeological methods of archaeologists, I came away with a greater understanding and appreciation of the work, the players, and the implications of the field.


Cherrington, Emil and et al.
Use of public Earth observation data for tracking progress in sustainable management of coastal forest ecosystems in Belize, Central America. Remote Sensing of Environment Elsevier 245(111798) https://doi.org/10.1016/j.rse.2020.111798

Declassified Data – Declassified Satellite Imagery – 1 1960-1972. EROS Archive. USGS, United States.

DiBiase, David
2009 11. Multispectral Imaging from Space. Courseware Module, https://www.e-education.psu.edu/natureofgeoinfo/node/1899

Fitoka, Eleni and et al.
2020 Water-related ecosystems mapping and assessment based on remote sensing  techniques and geospatial analysis: The SWOS national service case of the Greek Ramsar sites and their catchments. Remote Sensing of Environment. Elsevier 245(111795) https://doi.org/10.1016/j.rse.2020.111795

Handwerk, Brian
 2009-2015 “Lost City” of Tanis. National Geographic. Web Page. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/history/archaeology/tanis-egypt/#close

Estrin, James
2011 The Classified Photos, The Art of Surveillance. New York Times. Web Page. https://lens.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/08/18/in-classified-photos-the-art-of-surveillance/?mtrref=www.google.com&register=facebook

Lem, Pola
2017 Peering through the Sands of Time: Searching for the Origins of Space Archaeology. NASA: Earth Observatory.

Parcak, Sarah
2019 Archaeology from Space: How the Future Shapes Our Past. New York. Henry Holt and Co.

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