A drone using laser technology allowed National Geographic researchers to unveil previously unknown features of the Inca site Wat’a in Cusco near Machu Picchu.
The drone exploration was part of National Geographic‘s show Lost Cities with Albert Lin. A team of archeologists and Lin, the host and technology-driven explorer, traveled to Cusco to investigate the archeological site Wat’a. The ancient city sits on a mountaintop 4,000 meters above sea level in the Andes. It can be found just north of Huarocondo, a district located southeast of Machu Picchu.
A survey of the Inca site was done using a drone carrying light detection and ranging technology, or LiDAR. Hundreds of laser lights per second are pulsated from the drone to the surface, generating data in the form of 3D mapping. Centuries-old features of the land are uncovered in the process.
Wat’a, which means “island” in Quechua, has been studied previously. It’s known that pre-Inca cultures inhabited the site and was later settled by the Incas. Previous investigations of the site revealed evidence of city structures such as plazas used for ceremonies, residences, and tombs.
The new information captured by the laser technology drone reveal Inca terraces were built on site in a similar styles as Machu Picchu. Circular designs that are associated with pre-Inca cultures were also found.
Cover photo: Lost Cities with Albert Lin crew in the Andes/Albert Yu-Min Lin Facebook Page