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How science is helping unearth an 80-year-old Holocaust mystery

CNET – “Out of the ruins of the Warsaw Ghetto, remnants of resistance emerge, thanks to advanced geoscientific tools and a team determined to keep the horrors of history from fading…The excavation — organized by Poland’s Warsaw Ghetto Museum and led by its research specialist Jacek Konik — is part of a broader effort to fill gaps in Holocaust history using geoscientific tools. These include ground-penetrating radar; GPS systems; magnetometers, which study variations in Earth’s geomagnetic field; and electrical resistivity tomography, a technique typically used for engineering and environmental investigations that images subsurface structures down as far as 660 feet (200 meters). Geoscience allows for what’s called “non-invasive archaeology.”  “Archaeology is the most destructive science on Earth,” says Richard Freund, an archaeologist and professor of Jewish studies at Christopher Newport University in Virginia. “What’s good about the geoscience is you don’t destroy anything before you stick a spade in the earth. It’s not very labor intensive and, most importantly, it’s not very expensive.” Because these advanced tools identify and map historical sites without disturbing human remains, they also enable searches that honor the view held by some that digging up Holocaust graves disrespects the victims.  “It’s a game changer for Holocaust studies,” says Freund. He heads a multidisciplinary geo-archaeological research group aimed at unearthing lost Holocaust history to preserve the past and to protect the future from similar depravity. The group includes Geoscientists Without Borders, a program of the Society of Exploration Geophysicists that applies geoscience to humanitarian efforts…”

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