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Scientists find over 60,000 of new Maya structures (thanks t

整理: admin时间: 2018-10-08

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LiDAR or 3D map of 搜狐体育Tikal. Credit: Luke Auld-Thomas and Marcello A. Canuto.

More than 61,000 ancient Maya structures have been uncovered in Guatemala by a team comprised of only 18 researchers. Their secret? Laser tech known as LiDAR that can peer through the dense jungle and create a topographic map of thousands of square miles.

X-raying the jungle for ruins

Tikal (tee-KAL) is a ruined Maya city located in the northern Petén province of Guatemala, which used to be a very important AAA influential city during the heyday of the Maya Empire (1000 BCE-1500 CE).

The first archaeologists who arrived at Tikal during the late 19th century had to trek several days through the steamy jungle in order to reach the long-lost city.

Today, most of Tikal’s major buildings have been excavated, including structures such as the Plaza of Seven Temples, the Palace at the Central Acropolis and the Lost World complex. However, many other temples, buildings, and roads still lie hidden.

But thanks to modern technology, modern archaeologists don’t have to wander endlessly through the jungle in search for artifacts and hidden ruins.

To peek through the dense vegetation, an international team of researchers strapped LiDAR (light detection and ranging) technology on a low-flying aircraft which surveyed 2,100 square kilometers of terrain around Tikal.

Top: Tikal seen above the trees. Bottom: same view, this time stripped of vegetation by LiDAR. Credit: Luke Auld-Thomas and Marcello A. Canuto/PACUNAM.

LiDAR or 3D laser scanning was developed in the early 1960s for submarine detection from an aircraft. It works by generating a laser pulse train which can travel through the gaps of dense vegetation. By calculating the time it takes for the laser pulse to reflect back to its source, researchers can determine the elevation of the ground. This way, archaeologists can identify human-made features on the ground, such as walls, roads, and buildings.

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