Sun, 09 Oct 2011 10:13:03 GMT

Drone finds ancient royal burial sites in Russia



Washington, Oct 9 (PTI) Archaeologists have created a 3-D model of an ancient burial mound in Russia after a miniature airborne drone helped them in capturing images of the site.

The drone tested in a remote area in Russia called Tuekta which sits in the Altai Mountains bordering China, Kazakhstan and Mongolia.

According to the researchers, the burial mounds they have discovered are believed to be 2,300 to 2,800 years old and up to 250 feet in the area, LiveScience reported.

These burial mounds, called kurgans, probably belonged to chiefs or princes among the Scythians, a nomadic people known for their horsemanship, who once had a rich, powerful empire.

Excavations of some of these have revealed extraordinary treasures of gold and other artifacts well-preserved by permafrost. Nearly 200 burial mounds were found in Tuekta, the researchers reported in the Journal of Archaeological Science.

Archaeological sites are often found in remote and rugged areas. As they are hard to reach and map following the limited budgets, archaeologists are now using drones to extend their view into these hard-to-reach spots.

"There are a lot possibilities with this method," said researcher Marijn Hendrickx, a geographer at the University of Ghent in Belgium.

The site''s heart appears to once have been a row of five monumental Scythian burial mounds with diameters between 140 and 250 feet. The test area was about 1,000 feet by 330 feet, housing five giant mounds and dozens of smaller structures.

According to the researchers, they flew the drone at a height of 130 feet to study one mound in greater detail. But the lightweight of the microdrone was a problem at times.

Nevertheless, they managed to gather enough data to create a digital elevation map of the site and a 3-D model of the mound. (More) PTI SKP AKJ

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