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Popular Science: What unearthing ancient cities teaches us about exploring outer space

UC archaeologist Steven Ellis' use of flying drones with built-in 4K cameras over Pompeii is spotlighted in the magazine's Out There edition

a man wearing a blue shirt and tan pants stands in front of roman ruins

University of Cincinnati archaeologist Steven Ellis is among a “new generation of investigators” featured in the current Out There issue of Popular Science.  The story, which examines cutting-edge nondestructive techniques used by archaeologists in unearthing the beleaguered city of Pompeii, profiles Ellis and his fellow researchers’ use of flying DJI drones with built-in 4K cameras over the ancient ruins to capture 3D images. The technique, called photogrammetry, re-creates the sites in 3D. Off-the-shelf scanning software then lets them merge 2D photographs with measurements taken on-site to achieve complete environments.

Through the years, Ellis and his colleagues have worked to piece together full rooms and neighborhoods in the once thriving city. Thousands of photographs, old and new, have allowed them to create a virtual model of Via Stabiana, a major ­artery leading to a gate out of northwest Pompeii.

Ellis, an associate professor of classics, and team are now working to use ground-penetrating radar to help fill in the gaps of the ancient metropolis, one-third of which remains buried.

Read the story here.

Featured image at top: Bars, shops, and fast-food joints once lined the streets of Pompeii. Residents running errands would cross the dirty roads on raised stone ­crosswalks. Robert Harding/Alamy Stock Photo