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Massive Structure Found ‘Hiding in Plain Sight’ at Petra Ruins

Technology By
Fantasy landscape scene from Petra, Jordan. Monastery, carved into side of rock face. rocky mountain - views of valley, and this structure.
Petra, Jordan (David Lazar/Creative RF/Getty Images)

Archeologists can now use drones to monitor sites for looting or discover hidden structures from ground level. Amidst the world-renowned ruins of Petra, researchers recently uncovered a structure the size of an Olympic swimming pool. Even though Petra is visited by a half a million people annually, the structure went unnoticed for almost 200 years. Researchers used a combination of drone and satellite imagery to locate it.

Sarah Parcak, who is part of the discovery team, speculates it might have had municipal or religious uses. From what the team can see of it so far, the structure is unlike any other found in Petra. Researchers estimate the site was razed around 250 B.C. Take a look at two satellite images of the structure below. Read the full interview with Parcak here; or find her study, co-authored by Christopher Tuttle, here.

This composite of drone images shows architectural details and measurements (left) and a close-up view of a monumental structure near the center of Petra in Jordan (I. LaBianca/Graphics by J.Blanzy )
This composite of drone images shows architectural details and measurements (left) and a close-up view of a monumental structure near the center of Petra in Jordan (I. LaBianca/Graphics by J.Blanzy)