Drone. It’s a word normally associated with high-risk military operations and tactical air drops. But in Lima, Peru, these remotely controlled machines are being used for a profession that some might find surprising: archeology.
In a city with over 360 ancient sites, the use of drones has become paramount in terms of historical preservation and destruction prevention. These small, airborne cameras have the ability to fly high over ruins and give detailed three-dimensional imagery of the area, taking only a fraction of the time of traditional survey techniques. Time, especially in Lima, is ticking. With the city quickly developing, new laws have tightened the deadline for discovering artifacts in land slated to be urbanized.
But there are also other threats posed at these “plots of the past” in Lima. With a fight for available land, many “squatters” have taken to making illegal homes for themselves on top of abandoned historical sites, where looting is also a problem. However, with the fast-working drone technology, archeologists are hoping to change these areas into places to be admired rather than disrespected. The adobe pyramid of Huaca Pullcana, for example, was seen as a pile of rubbish just a few short years ago. Today, it has been transformed into a place that tourists and locals visit to see an effectively preserved piece of history.
With success stories like this, the abundance of culture combined with the accessibility of new technologies has archeologists in Lima looking favorably toward the future of the past.