As part of its 30th anniversary, INFINITI Motor Company is supporting a mini expedition in Petra, Jordan, employing NASA imaging technology and a fleet of its versatile SUVs, to visit a new discovery emblematic of the evolution of modern archaeology.

Following in the footsteps of National Geographic Fellow and Archaeology Professor Sarah Parcak, who helped discover a new site in Petra using remote sensing satellites and drones, INFINITI, in a fleet of QX80s and QX50s, followed the ancient King’s Road from the Dead Sea to the historic trading center of Petra. A small team of journalists explored areas near the monument discovered by Parcak that “had been hiding in plain sight.” With the help of satellite and drone remote sensing technology, Parcak and a colleague discovered a 50 meter by 100 meter platform just south of the ancient city. According to the scientific survey, the platform has no known parallels to any other structure in Petra.

Parcak is a leader in using remote sensing in archaeology, last month publishing a book “Archaeology from Space.”

“Satellites are one of a number of tools available to help archaeologists gain a better understanding of the landscapes around the sites where they work, and a way for them to discover features on sites or even entire sites in time and cost-efficient ways,” says Parcak. “It can take decades to survey regions, and satellites can help archaeological teams to zoom in on the exact places to look and map.”

“I think the great thing about INFINITI is that is not weighed down by any preconceived notions of what a car should be,” she added. “From the outside looking in, it seems to be a company that is willing to take risks and innovate- especially with the push to make all their cars electric in the next few years.”

“INFINITI has a 30-year history of technological firsts, pushing boundaries and empowering people to find their next frontier,” said Trevor Hale, General Manager INFINITI Global Communications and member of The Explorers Club. “INFINITI celebrates people like Dr. Parcak who is helping archaeology evolve through new technology. We are constantly pushing ourselves to explore new possibilities through technology to empower our customers on the road and in life. What better place than Jordan to recognize those who have challenged convention? Not only has there been cutting edge technology used to discover more aspects of Petra, which has been explored so many times; but to stand in the footsteps of Jordanian leaders as well as Faisal I bin Hussein bin Ali al-Hashemi and T.E. Lawrence, who changed the rules of military engagement 100 years ago during their famous ‘march to Aqaba’, as well as later attempts to unify the region.”

“I challenge convention by making archaeology accessible for everyone,” said Parcak. “Right now, I think we world sees archaeology as too disconnected from their everyday lives, and that it is something that only academics can do. Although efforts have increased for archaeologists to engage more with the public, especially in the younger generation of archaeologists, we haven’t done enough. The public, especially students, need to see women and Indigenous and black and Asian archaeologists elevated on public platforms. They need to know that their contributions are valid and essential, which is one of the main reasons I started Globalxplorer. I want to empower as many people as possible to feel like they can play an important role in telling our shared human story.”

Using TEDtalk prize money she earned, Parcak started Globalxplorer, an online platform that uses the power of the crowd to analyze the incredible wealth of satellite images currently available to archaeologists. Launched by 2016 GlobalXplorer° aims to bring the wonder of archaeological discovery to all, and to help better understand our connection to the past. So far, Dr. Parcak’s techniques have helped locate 17 potential pyramids, in addition to 3,100 potential forgotten settlements and 1,000 potential lost tombs in Egypt — and she’s also made significant discoveries in the Viking world and Roman Empire. With the help of citizen scientists across the globe, she hopes to uncover much, much more.

“The INFINITI Jordan experience represents the convergence of persistence, resilience and innovation, as we celebrate the brand’s 30 year journey. We chose Petra for this adventure, one of the oldest known civilizations in the world, for its symbolism of the progressive challenger spirit. The historic Nabatean community were opportunists, entrepreneurial at heart, and forged their own path in life – qualities that find synergies with our own brand and INFINITI customers. As we explore their lasting legacy with new discoveries in Petra, we celebrate those who challenge convention”, said Markus Leithe, Managing Director, INFINITI Middle East. 

The expedition to Petra follows a very successful Qxploration expedition last year in the Gobi Desert. Partnering with The Explorers Club, INFINITI supported an expedition which pioneered similar remote sensing technology to update the way paleontology is conducted. The expedition revisited the route of famed American explorer Roy Chapman Andrews (considered the inspiration for Indiana Jones) 100 years after he discovered dinosaur eggs at the Flaming Cliffs in the Gobi. Andrews was the first explorer to use motorized vehicles, making his expedition much more efficient.

This expedition employed similar advanced mapping technology to pinpoint likely fossil locations across enormous swaths of land. The 35-person multidisciplinary team found possible evidence of three new dinosaur species, more than 250 new fossil locations, five entirely new areas previously not known to contain fossils, and hundreds of fossilized bones, including those of mammals, which were not previously known to have existed in the area.

Paleontologists were able to analyze an enormous amount of data collected from satellite and drone imagery to pinpoint high probability locations for fossilization, based on geological and sedimentary markers. The team could then travel quickly to the sites in a fleet of INFINITI SUVs to prospect for fossils. The combination of satellite and drone imaging, together with a team of paleontologists—all working together—has never be done before.

INFINITI employed its SUV range to transport expedition members and equipment efficiently and comfortably to locations near Petra, including the full size 4WD QX80 and the all new mid-size premium QX50 crossover.  The vehicles include features which made the expedition luxurious as well as safe, thanks to the latest in premium comfort and technology, including Active Noise Cancellation to reduce driver fatigue during the long stretches between sites; NASA-inspired ergonomic seating; and the Around Vehicle Monitor, a 360-degree overhead view to help avoid rocks, ruts and encounters with the local Jordanian wildlife.

The QX50 is a beautifully designed SUV with the world’s first variable compression ratio engine (VC-Turbo) which provides an ideal combination of power and fuel efficiency – in dinosaur terms, the power of a Tyrannosaurus Rex combined the efficiency and agility of a velociraptor. The QX50 features the latest semi-autonomous drive technology and has been introduced in international markets. The new QX80 is engineered to deliver passengers and supplies to the most remote areas of the Jordanian desert wrapped in comfort and luxury. Powered by a 5.6L V8 engine, the QX80 has four driving modes, providing secure traction at all.

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