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Lasers Show Lost Mayan Cities

Tikal, Guatemala —(Map)

Scientists have used lasers to find huge numbers of ancient (very old) buildings hidden in the jungle. Over a thousand years ago Mayan people lived in Central America. They had large cities, temples, palaces, and roads. People knew about many of these. But scientists have just discovered many, many more of these than they expected to.

Parts of the Mayan City of Tikal can be seen poking out of the rainforest.
Parts of the Mayan City of Tikal can be seen poking out of the rainforest.
(Source: Francisco Anzola (Tikal Panoramic), via Wikimedia Commons

The scientists flew planes over the jungle in Guatemala. They shot lasers through the trees and vines. This method, called lidar, let them make a 3-D map of the ground. They made a large 3-D map, over 800 square miles, and it showed many unusual bumps. These bumps were ancient houses.

Lidar stands for “Light Detection and Ranging”. Archeologists   are excited about the things they will be able to learn about using lidar.

A lidar scanner can help make a 3-D map.
A lidar scanner can help make a 3-D map.
(Source: David Monniaux via Wikimedia Commons.)

The scientists discovered around 60,000 ancient homes and other buildings. They also found palaces, tombs, and highways. People knew that the Mayans were a large and advanced group of people. But now scientists think that they Mayan civilization   was much bigger than they thought before.

Tikal, Guatemala


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