3000 Yr Old Mayan Empire Revealed by Lidar

3-D Laser Mapping Unveils 61,000 Structures from 3000 Years Ago

Mayan Kingdom 3-D Map



Ancient Mayan Civilization Comes to Light

Archeologists have uncovered 61,000 ancient Mayan structures hidden by rainforest overgrowth in the tropical lowlands of Guatemala.  They used highly advanced 3-D mapping to do it.  The tech is called lidar, which is similar to sonar & radar.  But lidar uses bursts of laser light to map an area.  It's a case of breakthrough technology unmasking the ancient past.  The discovery was led by University of Houston researchers.

Rewriting History

There are farms and canals in the swampland.  Huge fortresses and hidden pyramids in the jungle.  There are roads through the rainforest.  These are among the 61,000 structures discovered essentially by laser beams being shot from a plane.  The Mayan civilization lasted 2500 years from 1000 BC to 1500 AD.  The finding were just published in Science.  And it's altering what archeologists thought they knew about the ancient society.

Millions of People

Researchers estimate 7 to 11 million people were living in the central Maya Lowlands from 650 AD to 800 AD.  That's 4 times what was previously thought.  The 3-D map reveals settlements with houses and temples, agricultural terraces, roads and defensive fortifications like moats and ditches.  Vast areas of the wetlands are filled with channels, canals and very rich farmland.