Saturday, October 04, 2008

PERU-new site near Nazca lines

A new remote sensing technology has peeled away layers of mud and rock near Peru's Cahuachi desert to reveal an ancient adobe pyramid, Italian researchers announced at a satellite imagery conference in Rome. Nicola Masini and Rosa Lasaponara of Italy's National Research Council (CNR) discovered the pyramid by analyzing images from the
satellite Quickbird, which they used to penetrate the Peruvian soil.

The researchers investigated a test area along the river Nazca. Covered by plants and grass, it was about a mile away from Cahuachi's archaeological site, which contains the remains of what is believed to be the world's biggest mud city. Via Quickbird, Masini and colleagues collected hi-resolution infrared and multispectral images. After the researchers optimized the images with special algorithms, the result was a detailed visualization of a pyramid extending over a 9,000-square-meter area.

The discovery doesn't come as a surprise to archaeologists, since some 40 mounds at Cahuachi are believed to contain the remains of important structures. "We know that many buildings are still buried under Cahuachi's sands, but until now, it was almost impossible to exactly locate them and detect their shape from an aerial view," Masini said. "The biggest problem was the very low contrast between adobe, which is sun-dried earth, and the background subsoil."

Cahuachi is the best-known site of the Nazca civilization, which flourished in Peru between the first century BCE and the fifth century CE and slid into oblivion by the time the Inca Empire rose to dominate the Andes. Famous for carving in the Peruvian desert hundreds of geometric lines and images of animals and birds that are best viewed from the air, the Nazca people built Cahuachi as a ceremonial center, molding pyramids, temples and plazas from the desert itself. There, priests led ceremonies including human sacrifices, drawing people from across the region.

Between 300 and 350 CE, two natural disasters - a powerful flood and a devastating earthquake - hit Cahuachi. The site lost its sacred power to the Nazca, who then abandoned the area. But before leaving, they sealed all monuments and buried them under the desert sand.

"Up to now, we have completely unearthed and restored a huge asymmetrical pyramid, known as the Grand Pyramid. A terraced temple and a smaller pyramid are in an advanced state of excavation,"
Source: Discovery News (3 October 2008)
http://tinyurl.com/47ck4a

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