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Take a Drone Tour of Ancient History

Drones offer a soaring perspective of ancient sites

(Kazuyoshi Nomachi/Corbis)
smithsonian.com

It seems like drones are everywhere these days, but in one sense they’re ancient news — when they’re taking stunning aerial footage of ancient historic structures, that is. It’s time for a little jaunt through the intersection of things ancient and undeniably modern with three drone videos that give a soaring perspective on history. 

First stop: Sudan, where a National Geographic team has captured aerial footage of the mysterious Nubian Pyramids. This UNESCO heritage site was left behind by the ancient people of the second kingdom of Kush approximately 3,000 years ago, but historians still aren’t sure about why and how they were constructed. (h/t Gizmodo)

Now it’s time to fly to Angkor Wat in Cambodia. The world’s largest religious monument, the Khmer Empire-era complex of temples is over 900 years old. It was first built as a Hindu temple and dedicated to the god Vishnu, then was converted into a Buddhist temple. UNESCO has protected the site since 1994, hailing it as “one of the most important archaeological sites in Southeast Asia.” 

And now we come to the end of the tour — behold Rome’s Colosseum. This gigantic amphitheater dates from around 70 A.D. and was built as a gift to the Roman people, where it hosted games, gladiators and other entertainments. It’s an iconic symbol of both the accomplishments of antiquity and the city of Rome, and UNESCO declared it a World Heritage Site along with other sites in Rome’s historic center in 1980.

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