'Pinching myself': Explorer unearths, recreates ancient civilizations thought lost with new 3D tech

ByJonny Harvey KFSN logo
Saturday, December 2, 2023
Nat Geo explorer unearths ancient civilizations with new 3D tech
National Geographic Explorer Albert Lin and his team utilized cutting-edge LiDAR technology which can create 3D recreations of these ancient civilizations once thought lost to the sands of history.

Straight out of an Indiana Jones movie, National Geographic Explorer Albert Lin is on a mission to unlock the secrets of lost cities from ancient civilizations.

From the remote cave systems of Oman to forgotten fortresses of Scotland, Lin and his team traveled to some of the most inaccessible and hostile environments on Earth.

Albert Lin is lowered into the "Seventh Hole" while leading an expedition deep into Oman to scan for clues and discover the true scale and sophistication of a lost desert society.
National Geographic

At each site, he and his team discover untold stories of entire societies lost throughout time featured in a new National Geographic six-part documentary series, "Lost Cities Revealed."

Albert Lin poses for a photo in front of the Cholon waterfalls during his quest to find the lost city of the Chachapoyas in Peru.
National Geographic for Disney/Alejandra Velez

Lin admittedly experiences an out-of-body experience when describing what his team unearthed.

"I'm pinching myself just even describing it to you right now because I can't believe that these moments of discovery can be real," Lin said. "I hope you feel that magic that I feel when I have that moment of 'aha,' like, what?

Computer-generated VFX imagery from "Lost Cities Revealed with Albert Lin: The Warrior Kings" shows the "Holy Mountain" with the city of "Napata" at Jebel Barkal in the background.
National Geographic
Albert Lin holds a light tube to study ancient Pict symbols inside Sculptor's Cave in Scotland, as he searches for the lost city of the of the Picts.
National Geographic for Disney/Katy Savage

Lin and his team utilized cutting edge LiDAR technology, or Light Detection and Ranging, which allows his team to re-create ancient civilizations once thought lost to the sands of history into 3D models.

"Here's this thing that's been missing for thousands of years and now is revealing itself to us to show us something, to tell us something about an ancient wisdom that was lost," Lin said.

A computer-generated graphic on a monitor shows Lidar imagery of a Pictish town and ramparts layered over the modern town.
National Geographic for Disney

He went on to say, "The tools that we have access to now have unleashed this new age of exploration that is truly profound. There's something really special about that because it allows us to reveal an age of discovery that you might not have realized was upon us."

You can watch National Geographic's "Lost Cities Revealed" on Hulu and Disney+ now.

Disney is the parent company of National Geographic, Hulu, Disney+ and this station.