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Archaeology & History

2,000-year-old Mayan civilization discovered in Guatemala

By T.K. Randall
December 26, 2022 · Comment icon 13 comments

What else is hidden beneath the rainforests of Guatemala ? Image Credit: USAID Biodiversity and Forestry
Researchers uncovered the enormous, previously unknown civilization by conducting LiDAR surveys of the region.
This vast new Mayan civilization, which dates back some 2,000 years, was found by a team of researchers from the US, Guatemala and France.

LiDAR, which is similar to radar but uses lasers as oppose to radio waves, has long proven an effective tool for locating evidence of lost civilizations because it can help identify signs of ancient buildings, roads and earthworks present underneath trees and undergrowth.

The new civilization discovered by the team was undeniably vast - spanning more than 1,000 interconnected settlements across an area of over 650 square miles.
A network of 110 miles of raised roads (or causeways) linked these areas together.

Within the settlements the team found evidence of large platforms and pyramids which may have served as centralized hubs for work, politics and trade.

Intriguingly, the settlements were quite densely packed, thus contradicting some earlier theories suggesting that the peoples of this time lived in sparsely populated areas.

The researchers also found evidence of ball courts for recreation and canals for transporting water.

Source: | Comments (13)

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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #4 Posted by lightly 1 year ago
Oya, me too.      There’s no guessing what might be found with LiDAR !    Something completely unexpected ,and incredibly old,I hope!     It will cause many ‘records’ to be revised..and updated. ?
Comment icon #5 Posted by and-then 1 year ago
Yes, it really IS!  I've heard of it in some of the fiction/adventure books I've read.  I want to try to understand a little better how it actually functions.  It works miracles  
Comment icon #6 Posted by lightly 1 year ago
  How does LiDAR see through trees? Lidar, of course, does not actually see through vegetation. Rather, it sees through holes in the foliage. Some of the multiple laser pulses it emits simply find openings between leaves and branches, in much the same way that sunlight filters through the forest canopy, continuing down to the ground.Jul 6, 2021 Next-generation Lidar: Seeing the Forest Through the Trees › next-generation-lidar-seeing...     (I’m not sure that’s exactly accurate… but, in the same wa... [More]
Comment icon #7 Posted by Hammerclaw 1 year ago
More detailed information may be perused from this link. LiDAR analyses in the contiguous Mirador-Calakmul Karst Basin, Guatemala: an introduction to new perspectives on regional early Maya socioeconomic and political organization | Ancient Mesoamerica | Cambridge Core
Comment icon #8 Posted by and-then 1 year ago
Just a wild guess on my part but this kind of imaging probably relies a lot on interpolation of a data set and just like with MRI, the image is "artificial" but darned accurate in its presentation of structures.
Comment icon #9 Posted by Abramelin 1 year ago
I have mentioned Albert Lin and his "Lost Cities" series on National Geographic. What always amazed me was the accuracy of those artificial images he was able to create based on the data he received from his drone equipped with LiDAR. On the ground he was able to point to structures that were invisible to the naked eye.
Comment icon #10 Posted by Abramelin 1 year ago
This is what was found half a year ago in the Amazon, using this technique (and posted on UM) :
Comment icon #11 Posted by Hyperionxvii 1 year ago
"1,000 settlements covering approximately 650 square miles, most of which were linked by multiple causeways." Amazing.  I wonder what the population of the Maya Civ was at it's peak? And what could have led to the demise of such a large civilization?   
Comment icon #12 Posted by lightly 1 year ago
   I’ve always suspected that human populations in the Americas far exceeded what is known of…And, that Outsiders arrived far earlier than known. . carrying the diseases which nearly wiped out the peoples they encountered.     ???    ?    The intruders may have then died out themselves..or been killed off eventually?   Just a thought.
Comment icon #13 Posted by Hyperionxvii 1 year ago
With all of the discoveries of these previously unknown settlements and the size of them, I would think that has to be a possibility. 

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