In the news: Lasers used to map giant burial mounds in 3-D

Laser sharp: These three-dimensional images of the ancient Gobyoyama burial mound (below) in Sakai, Osaka, were generated based on data collected with the help of scanning lasers carried overhead by helicopter. ARCHAEOLOGICAL INSTITUTE OF KASHIHARA/KYODO PHOTO

KASHIHARA, Nara Prefecture (Kyodo) Nara-based archaeologists said they have succeeded in drawing three-dimensional maps of
the surface of large burials mounds for the first time by flashing them with laser beams at a rate of more than 100,000
times a second from a helicopter.
The new method, revealed at an academic conference Saturday in Suita, Osaka Prefecture, is an important advance because
archaeologists don’t have free access to most of the large ancient mounds, which are managed by the Imperia Household
Agency.
“With this epoch-making technology, we can precisely measure (the mounds) without entering the compounds. It will be very
useful for our research,” said a researcher from the Archaeological Institute of Kashihara.
The helicopter flew around the Konabe burial mound in Nara in December and the Gobyoyama mound in Sakai, Osaka Prefecture,
in February, at a speed of 70 kph and an altitude of 500 to 650 meters.
The 3-D patterns matched those based on measurements taken in the past by the Imperial Household Agency, the archaeologists
said.
The mounds are covered with woods, but the laser beams penetrated the tree cover enough to reach the ground and create a
detailed 3-D map of the surface, the researchers said.

Japan Times Monday, June 28, 2010

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