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Modern Technology Reveals Ancient Footpaths Buried in 2,500 Years Worth of Volcanic Ash

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Video-game technology and satellite imagery provide a bird's-eye view of ancient footpaths.

Instead of digging on site, scientists Payson Sheets and Tom Sever went above ground. They used satellite imagery and video-game technology to peer through the veils of time, volcanic ash and vegetation cover, focusing on an area near the Arenal volcano in what is modern day Costa Rica. Their technique has uncovered footpaths of a people who lived there 2,500 years ago. Specifically, they have traced pathways from villages to cemeteries, which gives us insight into their social and ritual activities.

Credit: Zina Deretsky, National Science Foundation


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