Newly Discovered Buried Peruvian Pyramid Visible in Google Earth

Researchers recently discovered a buried pyramid in the Peruvian desert using satellite imagery and “special algorithms”. The buried pyramid is about a mile from the Cahuachi’s archeological site. But, if you use the satellite photo released by the researchers you can find the location in Google Earth. You can easily see evidence of the site yourself in GE’s imagery. It turns out the structure is underneath a crop field – and the underlying structure has changed the color of the soil such that shapes are visible in the DigitalGlobe satellite photo. GEB reader Markus Mehring told me about this discovery and after seeing the satellite image shown in news reports, he matched the location in Google Earth. See it yourself here . Markus thinks the data the researchers used was possibly the same DigitalGlobe image used in Google Earth (he says it matches very closely). According to the researchers, this is a large pyramid with a base of 300 feet on each side and with seven levels similar to another pyramid they are already excavating.
By the way, the Cahuachi site is just south of the famous Nazca Lines. And, here is a good Google Earth Community post showing a tour of the Nazca lines in Google Earth (with image overlays).
Google Earth imagery is definitely good enough to discover archeological sites – if you have a eye trained to look at the imagery properly. In fact, there have been a number of discoveries made with Google Earth. A long-time friend of mine, by the name of Scott Madry is a professor at the University of North Carolina, and has used Google Earth to discover dozens of sites in France thanks to Google Earth. But, Scott has been using aerial imagery for archeology for decades. Read a National Geographic story about Scott’s Google Earth work. has written a nice article about using Google Earth for archeology as well. And, if you’re really fascinated about seeing archeological sites in Google Earth, make sure to check out JQ Jacobs ancient monuments site which shows all kinds of locations in Google Earth.

About Frank Taylor

Frank Taylor started the Google Earth Blog in July, 2005 shortly after Google Earth was first released. He has worked with 3D computer graphics and VR for many years and was very impressed with this exciting product. Frank completed a 5.5 year circumnavigation of the earth by sailboat in June 2015 which you can read about at Tahina Expedition, and is a licensed pilot, backpacker, diver, and photographer.


  1. Just to clarify, the Italian researchers surely didn’t use Google Earth for this discovery, but apparently some of the same data as what’s currently in use in GE for that location (the source being the QuickBird satellite). What isn’t in GE, for example, is the infrared wavelength data they also used to make out subtleties in soil and vegetation (see e.g. in their false color image above the different shades of blue, which, in visible wavelength imagery such as in GE, is merely uniform green for the most part).

  2. What a fascinating article! I would never have thought about looking at the satellite imagery for archaeological sites, but now I’m going to start. Here in Northern Coastal Peru, there were a number of Pre-Inca cultures, so I should turn up something…right?

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