Lidar Uncovers Thousands of New Maya Structures

Credit: ‘Yucatan jungle’ by Thomas Schlosser on Flikr liscenced under CC BY 2.0

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Jungle-piercing lidar surveys over ancient Maya sites give scientists the most extensive maps of lowland Maya civilization to date.

A team of 18 researchers has now mapped more than 61,000 structures in the Maya lowlands. How? Two words: airborne lidar.

The scientists conducted aerial surveys of northern Guatemala, repeatedly flying over longabandoned sites of the ancient Maya civilization that once thrived between 1000 BCE and 1500 CE. The lidar data collected from these surveys map in fine detail the 3-D topography of the region, resolving ground features as minute as 1 meter. The researchers published their maps and their interpretations of those maps today in Science.

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