Hidden Maya Ruins in GuatemalaAn international team of scientists together with archaeologist have come together to participate in the PCUNAMLidar– Light Detection and Ranging initiative, charting over 772 square miles of Guatemalan jungle by plane.
Their discoveries have been exposed in digital maps together with augmented reality app. They have come across over 60,000 hidden Maya ruins in Guatemala in a huge archaeological discovery. In order to survey digitally below the forest shelter laser technology – Lidar, had been utilised which revealed houses, elevated highways, palaces together with defensive fortifications. Landscapes known in the vicinity of Maya cities is presumed to have been home to millions of the people besides other research earlier recommended.
The research had recorded over 810 square miles in northern Peten. Archaeologists are of the opinion that the cutting edge technology would bring about a change in the way the Maya civilisation would be seen by the world. Stephen Houston, Professor of Archaeology and anthropology at Brown University had commented that this is one of the greatest advances in over 150 years of Maya archaeology. He informed BBC that after decades of work in the archaeological field, he had observed that the magnitude of the latest survey was breath-taking.
Lidar – Unveils Archaeological TreasuresHe further added that it sounds hyperbolic though when he had seen the (Lidar) imagery; it brought tears to his eyes. The results from the research utilising Lidar technology, recommend that Central America sustained an advanced civilisation similar to the sophisticated cultures such as ancient Greece or China.
Ithaca College archaeologist Thomas Garrison had informed BBC that everything had been turned on its head. He was of the belief that the scale as well as the population density had been grossly underestimated and could be actually three or four times more than earlier presumed.
Lidar described as `magic’ by some of the archaeologist tends to unveil archaeological treasures which seem almost invisible to the naked eyes, particularly in the tropics.
- It is said to be a sophisticated remote sensing technology which utilises laser light to sample the surface of the earth, densely
- Millions of laser pulses are beamed every four seconds at the ground from a plane or helicopter
- Wavelengths are measured as they tend to bounce back which is not different from how bats use sonar to hunt
- The extremely precise measurements are then utilised in order to provide a detailed three dimensional image of the ground surface topography.
Digitally Eliminate Dense Tree ShelterThe team of scholars working on the project utilised Lidar to digitally eliminate the dense tree shelter in order to design a 3D map of what is actually beneath the surface of the now-uninhabited Guatemalan rainforest.
Francisco Estrada-Belli, a Tulane University archaeologist had informed National Geographic that `Lidar is revolutionising archaeology the same way the Hubble Space Telescope revolutionised astronomy and to comprehend what is seen, they would need 100 years to go through all the data.
Archaeologist had meticulouslyrecorded the landscape for years, excavating a Maya site known as El Zotz in northern Guatemala.However the Lidar survey had disclosed kilometres of fortification wall which the team never seemed to notice earlier.
Mr Garrison informed Live Science that probably, ultimately they would have got to this hilltop where this fortress seemed to be, though they were within about 150 feet of it in 2010 and did not observe anything. BBC was informed that while Lidar imagery had saved archaeologist years of on-the-ground searching, it also created a problem.
Recognized Structures – Stone PlatformsMr Garrison, who is part of a consortium of archaeologist involved in the latest survey, explained that the complicating thing regarding the Lidar is that it gives an image of 3,000 years of Mayan civilisation in the area, in a compressed manner.He further added that though it is a great issue to have, it provides us with new challenges as they learn more about the Maya.
Recently Lidar technology has been utilised in revealing earlier hidden cities near the iconic ancient temple of Angkor Wat in Cambodia. The civilisation of Maya had covered an area around twice the size of medieval England, at its peak around 1,500 years ago, having an estimated population of about five million.
Mr Estrada-Belli had informed that with this new data it was no longer difficult to think that there were 10 to 15 million people there inclusive of several living in low-lying , marshy areas which many had presumed to be uninhabitable.
Most of the 60,000 recently recognized structures are presumed to be of stone platforms which could have supported the average pole and thatch Maya home. The archaeologists were impressed by the incredible defensive features that had been comprised of walls, fortresses together with trenches. Garrison informed that they depicted the Maya had devoted more resources in defending themselves rather than presumed earlier.
Three Year Project – Guatemalan OrganisationOne of the hidden discoveries is said to be a pyramid which had been covered in vegetation that tends to be almost lost in the jungle. New insight is being shed on Tikal which is deep in the Guatemalan rainforest.
By utilising Lidar, archaeologist identified an earlier unknown pyramid in the heart of the city which was presumed to be a natural feature. Moreover it was also discovered that the city was three to four times bigger than earlier presumed having extensive defences on its outskirts. The fortification backs the new theory which the ancient engaged in large scale wars, as per National Geographic.
Another surprising discovery which perplexed the archaeologist was the complex network of causeways connecting all the Maya cities in the vicinity. The elevated highways enabling easy passage even during the rainy season had been adequately wide to recommend that they were heavily trafficked and had been utilised for trade.
Mr Houston had stated that the idea of seeing a continuous landscape though understanding everything is linked across several square miles is amazing. He also added that they can expect several more surprises. The Lidar survey was considered to be the first part of a three year project directed by a Guatemalan organisation which tends to promote cultural heritage preservation.
It would ultimately record more than 5,000 sq. miles of the lowlands of Guatemala. The discoveries of the project would be featured in a Channel 4 programmed known as the Lost Cities of the Maya - revealed in airing in the UK on Sunday 11 February – 20.00GMT