The Ever-Encroaching Present
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Peru’s past is in danger, but from a rather unexpected source. Some of the country’s most valued heritage landmarks are threatened, not by looters or environmental catastrophes, but by an urban sprawl that expands on the order of city blocks each year. The site of Huaca Pucclana, for example, is an adobe and clay pyramid located in the heart of the Miraflores district of Lima, the capital of Peru. The archaeological site flourished as an important ceremonial and administrative center for the advancement of the Lima Culture, a society that developed on the Peruvian Central Coast between AD 200 and AD 900. In fact, the site has continued to produce marvelous finds such as 1,000-year-old female mummies sacrificed under the central plaza that were unearthed this year. However, as home to 1/3 of the country’s population, the city of Lima is bursting at the seams with an overwhelming demand for new housing and marketplaces. Using aerial photographs and remote sensing technology, myself and other archaeologists have been monitoring the changes in landscape use over time and have confirmed these findings on the ground in order to locate precious archaeological sites that are at risk of being lost forever to the ever-encroaching present.