Urban Fold

Eye in the Sky Maps Ancient Maya

Advanced laser imaging technology known as lidar has proven to be an effective and fast way to map ancient Mayan villages.

"In only four days, a twin-engine aircraft equipped with an advanced version of lidar (light detection and ranging) flew back and forth over the jungle and collected data surpassing the results of two and a half decades of on-the-ground mapping, the archaeologists said. After three weeks of laboratory processing, the almost 10 hours of laser measurements showed topographic detail over an area of 80 square miles, notably settlement patterns of grand architecture and modest house mounds, roadways and agricultural terraces."

The new mapping technique has broadened the academic understanding of the extent of the Mayan city in Caracol, Belize, where researchers had been unsure of how big the city was.

Full Story: Mapping Ancient Civilization, in a Matter of Days

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