Science

South African “lost city” found using laser technology

Researchers from the University of Witswatersrand (Wits) have used cutting edge laser technology to recreate a city that existed near Johannesburg from the 15th century until about 200 years ago.

JOHANNESBURG / SUIKERBOSRAND NATIONAL PARK, SOUTH AFRICA (REUTERS) – Until about 200 years ago, this city existed on the outskirts of Johannesburg.

Now, decades later, archaeologists in South Africa have finally been able to recreate a comprehensive picture of the lost stone settlement.

Using laser technology, they’ve been mapping out the lost city of Kweneng.

Which once sat on what is now Suikerbosrand National Park.

Using billions of laser lights, researchers from the University of Witwatersrand say they’ve managed to recreate digital images of the past.

PROFESSOR, SCHOOL OF GEOGRAPHY, ARCHAEOLOGY AND ENVIRONMENTAL STUDIES, WITWATERSRAND UNIVERSITY, KARIM SADR,

“As soon as each pulse hits an object, any solid object, a bird or a leaf or a tree or the ground, it reflects straight back to the machine and then the machine can figure it out where that interception took place in three dimensions.”

Kweneng was once a thriving city with hundreds of households and trade networks.

Home to the Tswana-speaking ethnic group, its population is estimated to have been around 10,000.

It’s believed to have gone into decline after civil conflict.

For researchers, the discovery is an exciting window into the region’s past.

WITS UNIVERSITY PhD CANDIDATE, FERN IMBALI SIXWANHA,

“What this means is filling a huge historical gap especially for Southern Africa, because you know pre-colonial history of Southern Africa has no written record, so now we starting to fill in the gaps using this LiDAR technology.”

Scholars say the use of such technologies could be the key to understanding Africa’s rich history.


Associated Links

  • Laser
  • Photonics
  • Johannesburg
  • WITS

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