AUIS to Use Drone Technology for Archaeological Mapping in Kurdistan | The American University of Iraq Sulaimani

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AUIS to Use Drone Technology for Archaeological Mapping in Kurdistan

Wednesday, April 20, 2016 - 18:00

April 20, 2016 - Sulaimani, KRG-Iraq - Earlier today, the American University of Iraq, Sulaimani (AUIS) demonstrated the first official flight of an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV), aka drone, over the AUIS campus for students, staff and faculty members. The flight was demonstrated by Dr. Tobin Hartnell, assistant professor and director of the Center for Archaeology and Cultural Heritage (CACHE), and Mohammed Anwer, an IT student who will be piloting the drone for the Social Sciences department’s projects. This marks another successful milestone for AUIS in its endeavors towards using modern technology for research and academic activities.

Late last year, Azzam Alwash, senior board member at AUIS and founder of Nature Iraq, donated a DJI Phantom 3 Professional, an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV), to the Center for Archaeology and Cultural Heritage at AUIS. This remote controlled multicopter (a miniature helicopter with 4 rotor blades) is coordinated from the ground using an iPhone or iPad and a controller. The helicopter can shoot high-definition photography and very-high definition video (4K) of any place from the air and has a maximum flight time of roughly 15 minutes.

Dr. Hartnell has been trialing potential uses of this technology to create 3D models of the landscape at Betsansur, the oldest known village in Iraq, with the permission of Dr. Roger Matthews, head of Archaeology department at the University of Reading who is working at the archaeological site. Commenting on the trials, Dr. Matthews said, "Thank you for the amazing images and video so far. They give a totally new perspective on the site and its surroundings. We look forward to seeing more."

“In the future, we will use the technology to create models of landscapes and historic buildings; with some modifications, it can see in other light spectrums such as infra-red and potentially see buried remains up close,” says Dr. Hartnell. “We want to thank the Governor of Sulaimani Province, Aso Fereydun, and the Director of the Sulaimani Airport, Tahir A. Qadir, for creating a way for us to fly the drone safely. Thank you to everyone at AUIS who helped make this possible,” he added.

About the Center for Archaeology and Cultural Heritage:

The AUIS Center for Archaeology and Cultural Heritage (CACHE) advances a scientific understanding of the past through remote sensing, geophysics, and traditional archaeological investigations. The Center also promotes training, discussion and dissemination of knowledge about archaeology and cultural heritage in Iraq and the Kurdistan region as a safeguard against indiscriminate destruction by groups such as ISIS. CACHE was launched in 2015 as part of the Institute of Regional and International Studies (IRIS)

The Center has a strong track-record of bringing together scholars, policy makers, and cultural professionals from all over Iraq, Kurdistan Region, Europe and the United States. The center hosts regional and international experts at AUIS for workshops on art history, archaeology, and cultural issues related to Iraq and Kurdistan region. CACHE hosts an annual cultural heritage symposium where local, regional, and international experts gather to discuss challenges and solutions to preserving and promoting the region's cultural heritage. Starting in the summer of 2015, CACHE also began archaeological investigations at ancient sites near Sulaimani, in the Kurdistan region of Iraq.

Photos taken by Wud Salaam, student volunteer at the AUIS communications office.