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Lidar has the ability to produce incredibly detailed topographic surveys, a strength that is proving to be invaluable in the world of archeology. Lidar scans can uncover ancient ruins — from a single campsite to a lost city — that would otherwise remain hidden after years of overgrowth.
Beyond the initial discovery of archeological sites, lidar can be used to inform researchers of the surrounding area, providing an unprecedented level of information for planning access and research.
Lidar point clouds can represent detailed and accurate representations of the subject matter. Producing 3D models of historically significant sites can ensure the preservation for generations to come. Interactive access to these models can engage the public and revolutionize education of and access to these sites.
With the guidance of local archeologists, the GEO1 team ventured into the Colombian rainforest to search for traces of undiscovered settlements. We started by mapping ‘Ciudad Perdida,’ an existing archaeological site in Colombia’s Sierra Nevada.
Chasing the theory that Ciudad Perdida was only a fraction of a larger network of settlements, GEO1 planned flight paths to scan the valley around the site. With our lidar cutting through dense vegetation, archeological experts could search the slopes for evidence of ancient human settlement — a process that would otherwise take years, if not decades, to complete on foot. With our data, archeologists discovered six sites of early human settlements!
The monumental discovery of ruins around Ciudad Perdida offers experts the opportunity to learn more about Colombia’s indigenous history, including how communities lived and changed, and the influence the Spanish conquest had on life in the mountains.
With a digital rendering of the area, the landscape is open to imaginative analytical techniques, allowing researchers to uncover information faster than ever before. Data points can be stripped away to provide an unobstructed view of the ground, or to isolate known sites. The model can also be digitally enhanced and built upon as researchers infer what the landscape may have previously looked like.
In a remote river valley in Colombia, GEO1 acquired data revealing settlement patterns of an ancient civilization. The project, a result of close collaboration with The Earth Archive and the Center of Archaeology and Remote Sensing, sought to demonstrate the versatility of lidar in archaeological research. The data GEO1 provided built upon historical surveys of the area and was integral in transforming perceptions of both ancient civilizations and the use of lidar to study them.
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