Using laser technology, the remains of a sprawling Mayan settlement have been discovered beneath the rainforest in Guatemala.
The area covers a massive 650 square miles in the Mirador-Calakmul Karst Basin region, near the border with Mexico.
According to archaeologists, the city is believed to have existed 2,000 years ago and consisted of nearly 1,000 settlements connected by 100 kilometers of causeways.The Maya would have used these roads to get around the area.The team also encountered the remains of platforms and pyramids.
Reservoirs and canals were also found, which would have been used for water extraction.
The research was carried out using an aerial survey with LiDAR technology.Basically, lasers were beamed down from the plane and the reflected light formed an image of the landscape.
The LiDAR (light detection and ranging) sliced through foliage and weather and allowed the scientists to see indentations and trails in the land that had been hidden for centuries.
“This study uses aerial Lidar data to show how complex societies have organized their infrastructure to reflect their socioeconomic organization and political power,” the researchers wrote in the study, which is published in the journal Ancient Mesoamerica.
The images could shed new light on the area, which has been studied in the past for its Mayan ruins.
While previous studies suggested that Mesoamerican settlements here were sparsely populated, this new research shows they were densely packed.
What’s more, the researchers found that some of the settlements had ball courts next to them — suggesting that ancient people might have played some sort of sport there.
They also believe that some parts of the city were used as hubs for politics, work or recreation.
The idea of using LiDAR to uncover more Mayan settlements was inspired by the previous success in Belize and Cambodia.
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