Mining and quarrying can have extensive impacts on archaeological sites and on the remains within them. Modern industrial mining is conducted using explosives and earth-moving machinery, which destroys all archaeological remains without trace. Materials that were valuable thousands of years ago are often still valuable today, so many mines are located over earlier works. Even small quarries, created by local people for stone, can be extremely destructive. In addition, if quarrying occurs near a site, the vibrations can reach it, chemicals from the mining can leach into it, and changes to the water table can cause the desiccation of the site, all damaging and even destroying the fragile remains before they have even been excavated. The images below show industrial mining/quarrying complexes that have been built over ancient mining settlements. The processes used in modern quarrying have obliterated many of the ancient mines and quarries, and parts of the ancient settlement.
Satellite images show two modern industrial mining/quarrying complexes in Egypt (Figures 1–2) and Jordan (Figure 3) that have been built over ancient mining settlements. The processes used in modern quarrying have obliterated many of the ancient mines and quarries, and parts of the ancient settlement.
Figure 1: a DigitalGlobe satellite image of Egypt from March 2009, viewed on Google Earth. The ancient settlement is visible as clusters of dark structures, whilst paler areas are caused by trafficking by vehicles and quarry activities.
Figure 2: a DigitalGlobe satellite image of Egypt from July 2011, viewed on Google Earth. The ancient settlement is again visible in the form of clusters of dark structures.
Figure 3: this 2010 aerial photograph, part of the APAAME archive, shows the devastating effects of quarrying at Rujum al-Juththa in Jordan (APAAME_20101016_SES-0334 Rujum al-Juththa). It is apparent that the site is protected, but its archaeological context, and the potential to access the site for study, has been completely compromised by the quarry surrounding it.