machu picchu

Ancient and Hidden, Machu Picchu's Complexity Uncovered by Archaeologists

Laser-equipped drones have helped archaeologists uncover previously unknown parts of the sprawling ruins

Inca Citadel Ruins of Machu Picchu Peru

Hidden deep in the Peruvian jungle and shrouded beneath thick foliage, archaeologists have discovered a series of long-forgotten structures among the sprawling ruins of Machu Picchu.

Cutting through the foliage isn't easy, but such discoveries are becoming more common thanks to a combination of two technologies: lasers that can "see through" obstructions and drones that help archaeologists explore places humans sometimes can't easily reach.

Around a dozen small structures were identified less than 5 miles from the main remnants of the 15th century Inca city, on the outskirts of a ceremonial site called Chachabamba, according to a study published in the January edition of the Journal of Archaeological Science.

The scientists used a type of remote-sensing technology known as light detection and ranging, or lidar, which bounces laser pulses off surfaces to detect features and map their contours. Lidar scanning, a relatively new tool in archaeology, is becoming an essential way for scientists to study areas that were once too dangerous or inaccessible.

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