Olivier BARGE / Jacques-Elie BROCHIER

Abstract: The numerous publications dedicated to desert-kytes show that the question of their function and their dating cannot be explained in a simple way: there are probably very different scenarios. Identified at first in the Near East, their area of distribution is getting bigger and bigger. In particular, a group of desert kytes has just been discovered and studied in Armenia.

The big size of desert-kytes makes them often clearly visible on high-resolution satellite images. Coupled with fieldwork, the use of Google Earth has been very efficient: the study of the shape of the remains, of their architectural peculiarities, of their preservation as far as their mapping with GPS allows to distinguish their signature on the images. A set of 78 desert-kites has been discovered, leading to new investigations and fieldworks.

This iterative approach (satellite images / fieldwork) allows to build a spatial database with two scales: the scale of the desert-kite himself where are recorded fieldwork data and the scale of the region where every desert-kite is characterized by about twenty descriptors identified or measured on the images. This database allows to bring to light the regional specificity of these edifices.

In particular, the orientation of the desert – kytes according to the aspect of local slopes, suspected on the ground, was able to be proved thanks to the analysis of the database. The circular correlation between the orientation of desert-kytes and the local average aspect of slopes is rather strong and highly significant.

Keywords: desert kites, Google Earth, fieldwork, spatial database, aspect analysis