Remote Sensing and GIS Applications in the Study of the Geographical Distribution of Ancient Settlements in the Kafr el-Sheikh Governorate in Northern-Central Delta, Egypt

Lennart Strömquist

Abstract


This paper exploresthe potential of geographical methods, combined withtoponymical and historical research in explaining the regional distribution of historicalsettlements in the northern-central part of the Nile deltain Egypt. The geographicalanalysis was based on satellite remote sensing, studies of ancient maps, limited fieldcontrol and overlay techniques applied in a GIS.

The study area corresponds to the present governorate (province) of Kafr el-Sheikh. The aim of the project was to get an overview of the position of ancientsettlements and to analyse how toponymy and linguistic studies could contribute to atentative dating of such places. This paper focus on how landscape information wasrevealed and combined with research in humanities.

The study focus is on a relatively late period in Egyptian history. The area wasprobably sparsely populated until it shifted from wetland pasture to more intense landuseas a result of Roman drainage projects. The northernmost part of the area wasextensively settled only during Late Ptolemaic-Roman times and again abandoned in theearly Islamic period. The northern part of the study area is dominated by abandonedsettlements (tells) from the period, whilst most of the still existing villages from thesame period lie in the south,i.e. on higher ground that have been less prone to largescaleenvironmental change.

Various types of satellite data wereused in the study, i.e. Aster, Landsat ETM,Spot XP and IKONOS. Ancient maps surveyed by the French expedition to Egypt 1798-1801, topographical maps from the 20th century and modern photogrammetry basedtopographical maps were used in the same GIS to analyse landscape change during thelast centuries.

Only 78 tells (ruin mounds) in the study area are registered by the EgyptianSupreme Council of Antiquities (SCA). They, however, represent only a small portionof the ancient settlements, which could be traced and identified. As a result of theintegrated study approach almost 300 ancient settlements could be identified in thestudy area.

Key words: Toponymical, Linguistic, Ptolemaic-Roman, Photogrammetry, Settlements

 


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