Archeologists have made a stunning discovery in the jungles of Guatemala. Using the laser technology of light detection and ranging – aka LiDAR – a team of researchers have uncovered a vast lost city that was built by the Mayans that is massive in scope and scale, and is causing historians to rethink what they know about that civilization.
Using an aircraft equipped with LiDAR, archaeologists can fly over the jungle while scanning the ground below. When he data is then analyzed, computers can digitally remove the canopy of the forest to take a peek at what is hidden underneath. One such scan has revealed a significant find, identifying a city that has more than 60,000 buildings, including homes, farms, palaces, highways, temples, and much more.
The site, which is located in northern Guatemala was obviously home to many more people that previously thought. Researchers used the laster technology to map more than 800 square miles, and were amazed at what they found hidden in the jungle. The findings indicate that the Mayan civilization was larger and more far reaching than first thought, with a sophistication that rivals that of Greece and China. The lost city is believed to have been a bustling metropolis some 1200 years ago and included raised highways, a vast irrigation system, quarries, and agricultural development designed to support thousands.
LiDAR has been instrumental in finding these kinds of locations int he past and continues to be an important tool for archaeologist working densely forested areas. Expeditions passing through these regions can walk right past these structures and not even know they are there. But with this digital technology, the foliage can be removed to show what lies underneath. It is expected that the lasers will continue to make such discoveries as they are used more extensively.
To find out more about this amazing story, check out this article from National Geographic.
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