Big Data

How Drones Are Helping Peru Save Its Ancient Temples, Pyramids and Cities

Peruvian archaeological pieces sit at the Jotoro archaeological complex in Lambayeque, Peru.

Peruvian archaeological pieces sit at the Jotoro archaeological complex in Lambayeque, Peru. // Karel Navarro/AP File Photo

Peru is a country with an impressive collection of ancient ruins. And archaeologists have figured out a way to turn drones into one of their most reliable work assistants.

Small drones are helping researchers create site maps and three-dimensional models of sites, a process that used to take months or even years.

Speediness is important, because many of the ruins are at risk. According to Reuters:

Researchers are still picking up the pieces after a pyramid near Lima, believed to have been built some 5,000 years ago by a fire-revering coastal society, was razed in July by construction firms. That same month, residents of a town near the pre-Incan ruins of Yanamarca reported that informal miners were damaging the three-story stone structures as they dug for quartz.

Drones help "set boundaries to protect sites" by surveying the territory and monitoring for threats like illegal squatters, miners, or construction crews. They are also helping archaeologists create an easy-to-access digital repository which will hopefully catalyze awareness and aid reconstructing historic sites.

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