Researchers, using a high-tech aerial mapping technique have found tens of thousands of previously undetected Mayan houses, buildings, defense works and pyramids in the dense jungle of Guatemala’s Petén region, The Chicago Tribune reported
They digitally discovered more than 60,000 man-made ruins which also included elevated highways, in addition to industrial-sized agricultural fields and irrigation canals.
These fascinating findings were announced Thursday by an alliance of U.S., European and Guatemalan archaeologists working with Guatemala’s Mayan Heritage and Nature Foundation. Highways. According to National Geographic, they have been hidden for centuries.
The study estimates that roughly 10 million people may have lived within the Maya Lowlands, meaning that kind of massive food production might have been needed.
“That is two to three times more (inhabitants) than people were saying there were,” said Marcello A. Canuto, a professor of Anthropology at Tulane University, told the Chicago Tribune.
Archeologists used a mapping technique called LiDAR, ( Light Detection And Ranging) This works by bouncing pulsed laser light off the ground, revealing contours hidden by dense foliage. A 3D rendering of what is hidden under the surface is than created
“Their agriculture is much more intensive and therefore sustainable than we thought, and they were cultivating every inch of the land,” said Francisco Estrada-Belli, a Research Assistant Professor at Tulane University. This suggests a highly organized and advanced workforce.
The 810 square miles of mapping done vastly expands the area that was thought occupied by the Maya, whose culture flourished between roughly 1,000 BCE and 900 CE. Their descendants still live in the region, National Geographic explained.
“ In this the jungle, which has hindered us in our discovery efforts for so long, has actually worked as this great preservative tool of the impact the culture had across the landscape”, said Thomas Garrison, Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Ithaca College in New York.
Garrison noted that unlike some other ancient cultures, whose fields, roads and outbuildings have been destroyed by subsequent generations of farming, the jungle grew over abandoned Maya fields and structures, both hiding and preserving them, The Chicago Tribune reported
Garrison worked on the project and specializes in the city of El Zotz, near Tikal, is the most famous Mayan civilization & is a popular tourist destination in Guatemala, and is preserved buy UNESCO (The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization)
By Artie Weinberger