A couple years ago we featured drone footage shot above Los Angeles, New York, London, Bangkok, and Mexico City, the sort of metropolises that rank among the greatest works of modern man. But the pilot-photographers of small, unmanned, camera-bearing aircraft have produced equally fascinating visual revelations of the great works of not-so-modern-man. Just above, for instance, we have a drone flyover of the Nubian pyramids of Meroë, Sudan. You can see more such footage at National Geographic, whose engineer Alan Turchik has taken his own quadcopter out there.
“The part of the site that draws the most attention is the underground burial chamber of a Nubian king who conquered Egypt in 715 B.C.,” writes National Geographic’s Nora Rappaport. She quotes Turchik on the benefits of his chosen photographic technology, which allows him to “fly over and gain this connection between all the other burial sites, between the pyramid and the temple, and get an understanding of what that is from the air.”
That holds just as true for other sites of interest, such as the famous pyramids of Giza, captured just above by a traveler-drone photographer from China. (Flying drones in Egypt, we should note, has recently become a more difficult proposition; an enthusiast called Izzy Drones made a video on the complexities of his own mission to shoot the pyramids last year.)
Just as you’ll visit the pyramids if you take a trip to Cairo, you’ll visit the pyramids if you take a trip to Mexico City — but the pyramids of the still-impressive, still-mysterious ancient city of Teotihuacán. “Helicopters illegally fly over this area for foreign dignitaries, but we were told we might be the first to have filmed the pyramids with a drone,” writes the uploader of the video just above. He and his collaborators shot it early one morning for a Boston University research project on “what the ruins of a pre-Aztec metropolis can teach us about today’s cities.” History and urbanism buffs alike will want to read the accompanying article, but even just a glance at these clips tells you one thing for sure: whether old and long-ruined or relatively new and thriving, every city looks good from above.
Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities and culture. He’s at work on a book about Los Angeles, A Los Angeles Primer, the video series The City in Cinema, the crowdfunded journalism project Where Is the City of the Future?, and the Los Angeles Review of Books’ Korea Blog. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.