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Earth Science

Laser Scans Reveal Maya 'Megalopolis' Below Guatemalan Jungle ( 64

Laser-toting archaeologists have discovered an entire new city in the Central American jungle, the National Geographic reported this week. From the report: In what's being hailed as a "major breakthrough" in Maya archaeology, researchers have identified the ruins of more than 60,000 houses, palaces, elevated highways, and other human-made features that have been hidden for centuries under the jungles of northern Guatemala. Using a revolutionary technology known as LiDAR (short for "Light Detection And Ranging"), scholars digitally removed the tree canopy from aerial images of the now-unpopulated landscape, revealing the ruins of a sprawling pre-Columbian civilization that was far more complex and interconnected than most Maya specialists had supposed. "The LiDAR images make it clear that this entire region was a settlement system whose scale and population density had been grossly underestimated," said Thomas Garrison, an Ithaca College archaeologist and National Geographic Explorer who specializes in using digital technology for archaeological research.
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Laser Scans Reveal Maya 'Megalopolis' Below Guatemalan Jungle

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  • Is LiDAR really a revolutionary technology at this point?
    • by Narcocide ( 102829 ) on Friday February 02, 2018 @03:21PM (#56057017) Homepage

      Well the scanning mechanism revolves during operation. So, yes, technically, I guess?

    • by T.E.D. ( 34228 )

      Is LiDAR really a revolutionary technology at this point?

      No, but using it for the purposes of Archeology is pretty new. The first such uses I know of were only 6 years ago.

      • Is LiDAR really a revolutionary technology at this point?

        No, but using it for the purposes of Archeology is pretty new.

        Together, they open up new academic and career opportunities for sharks.

      • by witton ( 5254399 )
        They used LiDAR in Belize in 2009 for the Caracol Archaeological Project (also Mayan). This is not revolutionary tech, nor a revolutionary application. https://news.nationalgeographi... []
  • And it will all happen again.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    It's Mayan. Get it?

  • When the Earth realized our gaze was moving down dangerously close to the equator she yelled, "Hey! Keep your scanners up here, buddy!" ;)

  • Really exciting (Score:4, Interesting)

    by tgibson ( 131396 ) on Friday February 02, 2018 @03:51PM (#56057345) Homepage

    I'm flabbergasted that there are so many finger-wagging posts out of the gate chastising everything from anthropogenic global warming to Western Civilization to the propensity of an advanced society to destroy itself. I just simply feel excited for the archeologists--how thrilling it must be to make such a discovery and the excitement over planning next steps to learn more.

    • by Ranbot ( 2648297 )

      Flabbergasted? Really? Have you visited Slashdot much in the past few years? The days of people commenting on Slashdot with actual interest and knowledge in scientific fields are long gone. Those people have left, because the trolls, political wanks [left and right], and racist ACs have made this their playground. There are still some decent articles posted, but don't expect anything from the "community."

  • If the experience in Egypt [] is instructive -- and I believe it is -- look for massive looting to begin shortly.
    • by Jahoda ( 2715225 )
      If the experience in Egypt [] is instructive -- and I believe it is -- look for massive looting to begin shortly.

      The article states that these sites are already being looted, with LIDAR showing "thousands" of pits having been dug, and that while unknown to researchers, they are obviously not unknown to locals. They hope to raise awareness of the problem.
      • by swb ( 14022 )

        Based on the InfoGraphics(tm) in TFA, it looks like this is in a pretty well known geographic zone near other ruins/archaeological sites. The larger structures and scope may be new to archaeologists, but it sounds like the general area's likely archaeological value wasn't unknown.

        It's not like they found a giant city in an area otherwise considered lacking anything.

  • I see this being pronounced in "air quotes" a la doctor evil. LiDAR has been around for a very long time now, it is hardly revolutionary. In fact there was a similar story years ago, about the exact same thing, probably just a different place (or maybe the same story now in duplicate).

    It is pretty cool. However at the same time my spidey sense is going off a bit on how "undiscovered" these places were. It seems much to vast and complex to have been unnoticed entirely. Locals perhaps have known about it fore

  • by hackertourist ( 2202674 ) on Friday February 02, 2018 @04:32PM (#56057795)

    But watch out for the massive boulder.

  • I'm hoping they find a ton of Mayan scripts. We have so few and finding more would tell us a great deal about their civilization. The Spanish priests burned every scrap of Mayan script they could find. Shameful.
  • This is obviously the city of Zarahemla. This is known.

  • Megalolopolis is great, it's got that crazy gold base. I have a feeling that it will be easy to find the Jungle Basin. But if they find Shakuras Plateau as well, we'll have to unfreeze idrA and MMA and have them go at it. Husky can cast it.

"Neighbors!! We got neighbors! We ain't supposed to have any neighbors, and I just had to shoot one." -- Post Bros. Comics