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Wed Aug 1, 2012, 03:38 PM

Test flight over Peru ruins could revolutionize archaeological mapping

Public release date: 1-Aug-2012
Contact: James Patterson
jim.patterson@vanderbilt.edu
615-322-6397
Vanderbilt University

Test flight over Peru ruins could revolutionize archaeological mapping

Archaeological sites that currently take years to map will be completed in minutes if tests underway in Peru of a new system being developed at Vanderbilt University go well.

The Aurora Flight Sciences unmanned aerial vehicle will be integrated into a larger system that combines the flying device that can fit into a backpack with a software system that can discern an optimal flight pattern and transform the resulting data into three-dimensional maps. The project is an interdisciplinary collaboration between Vanderbilt archaeologist Steven Wernke and engineering professor Julie A. Adams.

~snip~
Tests are scheduled from mid-July to mid-August at the abandoned colonial era town of Mawchu Llacta in Peru, and plans call to return next year after any issues that arise are addressed in the lab.

Built in the 1570s at a former Inca settlement and mysteriously abandoned in the 19th century, the village of Mawchu is a 45-minute hike for the team from the nearby village of Tuti. Mawchu Llacta is composed of standing architecture arranged in regular blocks covering about 25 football fields square.

"Archaeology is a spatial discipline," Wernke said. "We depend on accurate documentation of not just what artifacts were used in a given time period, but how they were used in their cultural context. In this sense, SUAVe can provide a fundamental toolset of wide significance in archaeological research."

More:
http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2012-08/vu-tfo080112.php

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