Archaeological Remote Sensing in Jordan’s Faynan Copper Mining District with Hyperspectral Imagery

  • Stephen H. Savage
  • Thomas E. Levy
  • Ian W. Jones
Part of the SpringerBriefs in Archaeology book series (BRIEFSARCHAE, volume 5)


Hyperspectral (multiple, narrow band) satellite imaging provides a useful discovery and analytical tool for archaeologists. The Hyperion instrument, flying on the Earth Observer 1 (EO-1) satellite, was launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base on November 21, 2000. Hyperion provides 242 (196 calibrated) narrow bands in the visible (VIS) to shortwave infrared range (SWIR), enabling detailed archaeological and geological analyses. We analyzed a Hyperion image swath targeted on Khirbat en-Nahas (KEN), an ancient copper smelting site along the Wadi al-Ghuwayb (WAG) in Jordan’s Faynan district, where extensive ore processing occurred from the third millennium B.C.E. to industrial scale production over several centuries in the early first millennium B.C.E. (Iron Age) and continued until Medieval Islamic times. We use a combination of Principal Components Analysis (PCA), similarity matrices, and Spectral Mixture Analysis (SMA) to locate additional ore processing sites and discern depositional differences that may help illuminate issues related to the organization of production at KEN. Extensive field surveys in the research area provide a unique opportunity to “ground truth” the results of the hyperspectral research. Our results show considerable promise for future work with Hyperion


Hyperion Iron age copper mining Jordan Spectral mixture analysis Principle components analysis 



We express our thanks to several people at NASA, including Stuart Frye, Jay Pearlman, and Stephen Ungar, for their help in setting up a Hyperion data acquisition request, and answering many questions about the nature of the Hyperion data product. This study could not have been done without them. Thanks are also due to Alicia Rutledge and Christopher Edwards, Research Assistants at the ASU Mars Space Flight Facility, for introducing us to the Davinci software, and especially to Chris, who helped develop atmospheric correction and similarity matrix routines. We owe a great deal to Dr. Phil Christensen, for two semesters of graduate level remote sensing lectures, for explaining the intricacies of the Spectral Mixture Analysis routines in Davinci, and for reading and commenting on an earlier draft of the paper. Thanks to Ramesh Rao, Director, Calit2 San Diego Division; Ziad al-Saad, former Director General, Department of Antiquities of Jordan; Mohammad Najjar, UCSD Levantine Archaeology Lab.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stephen H. Savage
    • 1
  • Thomas E. Levy
    • 2
  • Ian W. Jones
    • 2
  1. 1.Arizona State UniversityTempeUSA
  2. 2.UC San DiegoLa JollaUSA

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