Archaeologists reveal unknown structures in the Machu Picchu National Park

A team of archaeologists from the University of Warsaw have identified a series of previously unknown structures in the Machu Picchu National Park.

In a new study published in the Journal of Archaeological Science, the team applied Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) technology using drones above the forest canopy.

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LiDAR creates a 3-D digital representation due to differences in laser return times and by varying laser wavelengths. Using computer software, obstructing layers such as forests and agricultural crops can be removed to reveal the contours of the landscape hidden beneath.

The study focused on the Inca complex of Chachabamba, a ceremonial centre associated with water that includes several water-related shrines and baths.

By analysing the LiDAR data, 12 small structures erected on a circular and rectangular plan was revealed on the outskirts of the complex. The researchers suggest that they were the dwellings inhabited by the individuals that operated Chachabamba, although the structures are less ornate in the construction.

One of the structures detected by LiDar – Image Credit : Dominika Sieczkowska

According to Dominika Sieczkowska from the Andean Research Centre of the University of Warsaw: “There are indications that it was mainly women who looked after the complex. as suggested by objects discovered during previous excavations by a Polish-Peruvian team”.

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LiDar results also revealed previously unknown canals that supplied Chachabamba with water from the nearby Urubamba River via a system of partially underground blocks of stone. Find out more


Header Image – Archaeological site of Chachabamba – Image Credit : Ivo Antonie de Rooij – Shutterstock

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Mark Milligan
Mark Milligan
Mark Milligan is multi-award-winning journalist and the Managing Editor at HeritageDaily. His background is in archaeology and computer science, having written over 7,500 articles across several online publications. Mark is a member of the Association of British Science Writers (ABSW), the World Federation of Science Journalists, and in 2023 was the recipient of the British Citizen Award for Education, the BCA Medal of Honour, and the UK Prime Minister's Points of Light Award.

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