Researchers have discovered new and fascinating information about an ancient settlement on the heights of the Peruvian Andes, which precedes the famous site of Machu Picchu.
Albert Lin, National Geographic explorer – in collaboration with archaeologists Adam Choqque Arce and Thomas Hardy – used a revolutionary technology known as LiDAR to discover the full extent of the city, which was inhabited by the Incas and the people that preceded them.
The settlement lies in an archeological zone known as Wat’a – which means “island” in the local indigenous language – and is located at an altitude of 3,962 meters, which is equivalent to 1,525 meters higher than Machu Picchu, considered the expression maximum of the ancient Inca civilization.
“Access is very difficult,” Lin explained, in an interview with Newsweek. “You have to climb almost four thousand meters until you reach an eminently clear landscape and, since there are not many trees there, the sun does not stop burning throughout the journey.”
“Once you get to the place you find a great view. The surrounding mountains are really splendid. And the settlement itself, at the top of the mountain, offers a clear perspective of the different valleys arranged along the commercial route; maybe even the site that one day would become Machu Picchu. ”
The settlement of Wat’a had already been explored with conventional archaeological methods, which brought to light evidence of tombs, ceremonial plazas, residential areas and a large surrounding wall.
However, the study with LiDAR – the first to use this technology in that place – helped archaeologists identify many other features hitherto unknown.
In essence, LiDAR allowed the team to “see through” the dense undergrowth and the abundant cacti that populate the summit. The technology uses instruments installed in airplanes – in this case, drones – that send hundreds of thousands of laser pulses per second to the ground.
The data produced is used to create detailed three-dimensional maps that detail the topography of the area, in addition to any ancient artificial structure that is imperceptible to the naked eye.
Among its findings, the team of explorers was able to identify the characteristic terraced design of the Incas, as well as circular structures often related to pre-Inca villages.
“Suddenly, we removed all the vegetation and the mountain became a kind of terrace, similar to that of Machu Picchu. We also observe other terraces that go up to the summit, although on a much smaller scale and with less detail, ”Lin added.
“The site gives you the feeling that the pre-Inca, and the Incas themselves … moved mountains.” Like other Peruvian sites, Wat’a is very interesting because the Incas built the city on a previous pre-Inca settlement.
The researchers also point out that the site could be a kind of template for Machu Picchu, built in the mid-fifteenth century. “The place is very inspiring, since you can imagine it as an evolutionary stage that finally led to Machu Picchu,” Lin concluded.
The program “Lost Cities with Albert Lin” is broadcast on the National Geographic channel. What’s your opinion about it? Leave your comment below.