Drone survey reveals large earthwork at ancestral Wichita site in Kansas

Drone survey reveals large earthwork at ancestral Wichita site in Kansas
Left: Drone-acquired orthoimage of the site showing major features discussed in the paper. Right: Thermal images mosaic collected from 11:15 pm-12:15 am. (Images from Figure 6 of the study). Credit: by Jesse Casana, Elise Jakoby Laugier, and Austin Chad Hill.

A Dartmouth-led study using multisensor drones has revealed a large circular earthwork at what may be Etzanoa, an archaeological site near Wichita, Kansas. Archaeologists speculate that the site was visited by a Spanish expedition, led by Juan de OƱate, a controversial conquistador, in 1601. The earthwork may be the remains of a so-called “council circle,” as it is similar to several other circular earthworks in the region, according to the study’s findings published in American Antiquity.


“Our findings demonstrate that undiscovered monumental earthworks may still exist in the Great Plains. You just need a different archeological approach to recognize them,” explained lead author, Jesse J. Casana, a professor and

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