David Thomas, a Ph.D. student in La Trobe University's archaeological program in Melbourne, has used Google Earth to safely uncover historic sites in a remote part of war-torn Afghanistan.
Using the free Internet resource, Thomas found up to 450 possible archaeological sites in Registan, which borders Helmand and Kandahar provinces in southern Afghanistan. The decision to use Google Earth was "partly born out of adversity", Thomas said, when a planned field trip was cancelled because of security concerns.
The region has been made inaccessible because of the ongoing military conflict between western and Afghan government forces and the former Taliban government.
Since the Soviet invasion in 1979, Afghanistan has been increasingly difficult for archaeologists to visit, he said. However, Google Earth allows archaeologists to overcome the perils of war zones.