The Lost City of Drones

I’m growing very excited about the new technologies being used in archaeology. From submersibles to satellites, we are utilizing hitech equipment to peel back rainforests and deserts, and even the oceans to scan beneath the sands.

It is an amazing time to be an archaeologist, though I also fear that the technology has outstripped our means. We are finding tens of thousands of new sites daily, but as in a case in South America I read the field work on recently, the archaeologists often discover that by the time they can get funding and a team to a site (sometimes months or years after discovery) it has been looted. This is my greatest fear. As we saw in Iraq during the Gulf War, some of our black agencies are also involved in the international illicit trades, such as drugs, sex, art, and artifacts. With a perfect satellite geoposition in hand, it would be easy for wealthy looting operations to be undertaken.

Nevertheless, this is a groundbreaking and potentially Golden Aged time for archeology. We will not have to rely solely on intrepid or blindly lucky explorers to accidentally stumble upon a Machu Picchu or die in the Amazon hunting the Lost City of Z. These finds will expand our knowledge of existing civilizations, plus unveil wholly new ones, and rewrite the history books, as it is doing in the Amazon currently, revealing extensive civilizations where none were supposed to exist in a pristine jungle. I am thrilled to be living during this time.

An example of these technologies in the field is this article about current archaeological work in Brazil, “Drones to Scan for Ancient Amazonia.”

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