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Earth Science

Lidar Finds Overgrown Maya Pyramids 169

AlejoHausner writes "A team of archaeologists scanned the jungle of Belize with lidar. Although most of the reflections came from the jungle canopy, some light reflected off the ground surface. Using this, suddenly hidden pyramids, agricultural terraces, and ancient roads are revealed, at 6-inch resolution. The data allowed the archaeologists to bolster their theory that the ancient city of Caracol covered more than 70 square miles of urban sprawl and supported a population of over 115,000."
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Lidar Finds Overgrown Maya Pyramids

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  • by adeft ( 1805910 ) on Tuesday May 11, 2010 @12:50PM (#32171178)
    Seems like it might be useful for finding downed aircrafts and other missing objects....maybe even people?
  • Fast turnaround (Score:5, Interesting)

    by JustNilt ( 984644 ) on Tuesday May 11, 2010 @01:36PM (#32171866) Homepage

    What's most impressive to me is how quickly they got the results. It only took a couple days of actual data gathering then a few weeks of lab processing. Last I heard about anything similar (using satellite images, IIRC) it took months to get results.

    Very cool stuff.

  • Re:Cool. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) * on Tuesday May 11, 2010 @02:25PM (#32172592) Journal

    Now find Atlantis.

    You mock, but the discoveries of megalithic structures over the past twenty years have called into question a lot of our assumptions about the earliest civilizations with technology. There are rock carvings being discovered in the Southern part of Africa that show very advanced understanding of astronomy, geography and time measurement that appear to be over twenty thousand years old which is much, much earlier than previously thought.

    If we can ever get scientists to be able to really research the pyramids and nearby structures without the dictatorial control of the Egyptian government, there is reason to believe that there are references to sophisticated understanding of astronomy going back over fifty thousand years.

    When I worked at the University of Chicago, I used to hang with people from the Oriental Institute. From them, I learned just how shaky a lot of the theories regarding Early Egyptian culture really are, including but not limited to how in the hell the pyramids were built. One of the foremost Egyptologists in the world once confirmed to me that the accepted theories are clearly ridiculous, that the notion that you can drag, or roll on logs, granite blocks weighing up to 100 tons for several miles, and then erasing every sign of the way in which they were moved, is just nonsense. Further, he'd like to know, how in the hell were they able to move those stones over 100 feet in the air to place them at the top of the pile?

    This gentleman, now dead, explained that Egyptology specifically, and archeology generally, are so political that any theory or work done outside the mainstream is killed before it can even be peer-reviewed. This guy, a professor emeritus at the time, told me he'd had a 20 year correspondence with crypto-archeologist Graham Hancock and he was careful to tell me that though he disagreed with most of Hancock's assertions, that some of them deserved much closer consideration. And it's not only academic politics that have shaped our "consensus" regarding those civilizations. Religious and political forces have played an even greater role in making sure that the accepted history supports certain orthodoxies.

    Atlantis? Well, probably not, but once you get past 50,000 years it's not at all impossible that there was a relatively advanced civilization on this planet that subsequently disappeared. Almost every native culture on Earth has legends about a "golden age" when a more advanced civilization existed, which then disappeared during a subsequent "dark age".

  • Re:Cool. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by gyrogeerloose ( 849181 ) on Tuesday May 11, 2010 @02:58PM (#32173014) Journal

    once you get past 50,000 years it's not at all impossible that there was a relatively advanced civilization on this planet that subsequently disappeared.

    You don't even have to go back that far. The Minoan people of ancient Crete were well on the way to an industrial revolution of of their own that predated that of England by a couple of thousand years. If it wasn't for an inopportune volcanic eruption which completely wiped the Minoans out back around 1400 BCE, we might have had electronic computers by Roman times and those flying cars and jet packs we all wish for by now.

  • Re:Cool. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Locke2005 ( 849178 ) on Tuesday May 11, 2010 @03:06PM (#32173098)
    The Egyptians were experts in using water. Easy to level the base of the pyramids, just flood the whole area on a calm day, and mark the water level. Likewise, why drag/roll stones for miles when you can just build a canal and float them to the work site? With use temporary dykes and thousands of people to pump water up hill, you could practically float them into place and drop them. Of course, there would be no trace left of temporary systems put in place to move stones, be they canals or ramps, any more than there are traces of scaffolding around the great cathedrals.

    I also find silly our clinging to the belief that there was absolutely no interaction between Egyptian and South American civilizations, despite growing evidence of "native" South American plants showing up in ancient Egypt. It seems like blatant Euro-centricism to assume that Europeans were the only ones capable of "discovering" new continents, especially since these continents were already inhabited by other peoples!
  • Re:Cool. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MontyApollo ( 849862 ) on Tuesday May 11, 2010 @04:37PM (#32174444)

    I had a professor once that pretty effectively argued that Crete was Atlantis. I have forgot most of the arguments, but I believe one of them was that if you assumed a common translation error in numbers that Plato might have committed, then the eruption of Thera would coincide very well with the (corrected) time period of Atlantis's fall.

  • Re:Cool. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by gyrogeerloose ( 849181 ) on Tuesday May 11, 2010 @04:57PM (#32174760) Journal

    I had a professor once that pretty effectively argued that Crete was Atlantis

    Yes, I've heard that too; in fact, one of the books I got my info on the Minoans from suggested the same. Also, that the eruption of Thera [] was possibly the cause of the parting of the Reed Sea [], a shallow marshy area of northern Egypt, which is incorrectly translated as "Red Sea" in the Bible.

  • Re:Cool. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by osu-neko ( 2604 ) on Tuesday May 11, 2010 @05:10PM (#32174956)

    Some interesting reading about these issues can be found in the books of Ralph Ellis. Another researcher who academics publicly label as a "kook" while begrudgingly accepting his conclusions in private.

    Yes, but they also begrudgingly admit it's all a conspiracy due to him being behind on his Illuminati dues in private. (Hey wow, I can claim anything I want about what people do "in private" and point to the lack of published acknowledgment as proof! Of course, only a complete and utter fucking moron would believe me, since, of course, if they only do it in private, how the hell would I know?)

  • Re:Cool. (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 11, 2010 @10:03PM (#32178082)

    Given that the ships of the time could not even cross the Mediterranean safely this is very unlikely.

    That's not a given at all.

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