World: Drones uncover ancient village - - PressFrom - Australia
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World Drones uncover ancient village

07:25  06 november  2019
07:25  06 november  2019 Source:   9news.com.au

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a plane flying over a tree: A laser-equipped drone flies over the ancient village on Raleigh Island. (University of Florida)© Supplied A laser-equipped drone flies over the ancient village on Raleigh Island. (University of Florida) Drones fitted with lasers have revealed new details of an ancient island settlement off the Florida Gulf coast.

The small unmanned aircraft were fitted with light detection and ranging (Lidar) sensors by University of Florida researchers in their study of Raleigh Island.

Data from the aerial survey helped recreate a 3D map of its surface and revealed previously unknown architectural details of a village settlement dating from 900 to 1200.

It confirmed how the people there produced highly prized beads from large sea molluscs that were traded as far as the American Mid West – hundreds of kilometres away.

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Scientists researching the environmental impact of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill were surprised to uncover the remains of an ancient pre-Columbian village on Florida’s northern Gulf Coast. The settlement on Raleigh Island was revealed by University of Florida researchers using drones to

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The island community comprised of 37 residential parts, walled by piles of oyster shells up to four metres in height, the study said.

Researchers found there was "strong evidence" that beads crafted from sea mollusks were made at these sites. Stone tools were also discovered on the island.

The beads were regarded as symbols of high social standing among tribal leaders during the pre-Columbian era – the period in the history of America before its discovery by Europeans.

While previous land surveys tried to investigate the settlement, they were hindered by the thick foliage on Raleigh Island.

But the drone-mounted Lidar scanner swept 16 lasers over an area and easily penetrated the dense forest.

This image shows architectural details and topographic data about the Raleigh Island settlement. They revealed rings made of oyster shells surrounding 37 residences. (University of Florida)© Supplied This image shows architectural details and topographic data about the Raleigh Island settlement. They revealed rings made of oyster shells surrounding 37 residences. (University of Florida)

"In form, scale and purpose, the Raleigh Island settlement has no parallel in the archaeological record of the American southeast," Professor Ken Sassaman, of the University of Florida, and joint study author, said.

"The fact we have strong evidence of bead manufacture at a site with equally impressive architecture to guide us in understanding how production was organised socially makes this place really special, and as of now the only place like it we are aware of."

The findings have been published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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