School of Humanities

From the Air

A generation of archaeological research and nearly twenty years of fieldwork at and around Zeugma was carried out without the benefit of aerial photography.

In an ideal situation, archaeologists would have had access to a wide range of existing archive aerial photographs of varying resolutions, angles, dates and seasons. New flying would have been undertaken to acquire imagery dedicated to archaeological needs, at different seasons and to monitor development in the valley.

In fact no aerial photographs were available. Both the present writer (Kennedy 1998: Figs 2.3 and 3.1) and Anthony Comfort (Comfort 2006; Comfort and Ergec 2001; Comfort, Abadie-Reynal and Ergec 1998; 2000) independently made use of satellite imagery, not least the declassified Corona film imagery of the 1960s and 1970s. Satellite was useful but it had significant limitations not least of resolution. Today one has Google Earth for northern Syria with a superb resolution but it stops abruptly on the frontier with Turkey and the river valley and Zeugma itself are largely invisible.

There are some aerial photographs. In 2000, Nuri Basgelen, was flown over the site and took numerous aerial photos. He was commendably prompt at publishing them. A short book with high quality images appeared soon after his flight and gave scholars the first low-level oblique images, all in colour, of Zeugma:

Basgelen, N. (2000) Zeugma from the Air, Istanbul (Turkey From the Air Series, no.2)

The images are very welcome indeed but there were limitations to their value. The book appeared without text of any kind - just photographs without identification or comment. It had been hoped to produce a second edition with historical introduction and with the photographs now accompanied by descriptive captions and appropriate annotation. That never materialized though the text and captions were written by me. Although it is not possible to reproduce those photographs here, the text and captions are reproduced in the following pages for the benefit of those who may find the introduction useful and the captions helpful if they have the booklet.