Thermal images of a Native American village dubbed Blue J in New Mexico have been captured by a small drone, revealing never-before-seen structures to archaeologists, reports Live Science.
The 1,000-year-old village was first identified by archaeologists in the 1970s. It is about 43 miles south of Chaco Canyon and contained 60 Peubloan houses around what was once a large spring, Live Science says.
Because the ruins have only been partially studied and are now buried in sandstone that blows in from nearby cliffs and obscured by vegetation, the drone was used last June to get a look below the surface.
“I was really pleased with the results,” Jesse Casana, an archaeologist from the University of Arkansas, told Live Science. “This work illustrates the very important role that UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) have for scientific research.”
The images may even have revealed a kiva—an underground circular structure used for ceremonies and gatherings—at Blue J, a find that would be significant there because the village lacks the monumental great houses and underground kivas that are typically found in Chaco-era Pueblo sites, Casana and co-author John Kantner, of the University of North Florida, wrote in the May issue of the Journal of Archaeological Science.
To learn how the drones work and how they could be used in the future, visit LiveScience.com.