Archaeologists have found a previously unknown structure in the ruins of Machu Picchu

Archaeologists have discovered a series of long-forgotten structures in Machu Picchu’s vast archaeological site, hidden deep in the Peruvian jungle and covered under thick foliage.

Cutting the leaves is not easy, but thanks to the combination of the two techniques, such discoveries are becoming more common. A laser that can “see through” obstacles and a drone that helps archaeologists explore places that humans cannot easily reach.

A study published in the January edition identified 12 small structures on the outskirts of a ritual site called Chachabamba, within 8 km of the main debris of the 15th-century Inca city. Archaeological Journal..

Scientists used a type of remote sensing technology known as Light detection and ranging, or LIDAR, It bounces a laser pulse on the surface to detect features and map their contours.

LIDAR view of the Birkanota Valley and Chacha Bamba.  (B. & # x000106; mielewski)

LIDAR view of the Birkanota Valley and Chacha Bamba. (B.Ćmielewski)

Riderscan, a relatively new tool in archeology, is becoming an indispensable way for scientists to study areas that were once too dangerous or inaccessible. In 2019, by laser scan An ancient Mayan farm in the Belize rainforest..A few years ago, LIDAR was an archaeologist. Lost city of Honduras..

The discovery of Machu Picchu, including part of the water system flowing through the region, is creating new insights into the role of the Inca civilization and ceremonial complex. Machu Picchu..

“It was a very special place, so only very privileged people could go to Machu Picchu,” said Dominika Sietsukovska, deputy director of organization and development at the Andean Research Center at the University of Warsaw, who led the study. Said. “When I got there, I had to stop by Chacha Bamba to keep the spiritual bath clean and pure to get to Machu Picchu.”

Chachabamba, in the Birkanota Valley, is centered around a major stone altar surrounded by 14 baths, and Sieczkowska says it was most likely used for ritual cleansing. Water to the site flowed through a complex network of channels supplied by the Urubamba River.

The ritual department of Chacha Bamba.  (D. Sieczkowska)

The ritual department of Chacha Bamba. (D. Sieczkowska)

The area is mostly overgrown and archaeological sites recede deep into the jungle, making it difficult to explore. To reveal what is under the canopy, scientists from the Wroclaw University of Science and Technology in Poland and the Ministry of Culture in Peru used a drone equipped with a special laser to pierce the leaves.

LIDAR scans reveal about 12 structures within about 60 feet of the main ritual part of Chacha Bamba.

“They were so close that they didn’t even know they were there,” Sieczkowska said.

Laser scans also revealed a partially underground stone channel that supplies water to the entire Chacha Bamba site. Researchers then developed models based on the slope and depth of the canal to recreate how water flowed into various ceremonial baths.

LiDAR launched at the bottom of the Birkanota Valley.  (D. Sieczkowska)

LiDAR launched at the bottom of the Birkanota Valley. (D. Sieczkowska)

Sieczkowska said there are many uncertainties about how the newly discovered structures around Chacha Bamba were used, but it may have been the residence of the people who oversaw the ceremonial site.

Archaeologists plan to do further research in Chachabamba, including the excavation of interesting features identified by the Rider Scan.

“The idea was to excavate some buildings, but because of the pandemic, we had to cancel the plan so far,” said Sieczkowska. “But maybe we’ll get there next year.”

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