Skip to comments.Exclusive: Laser Scans Reveal Maya "Megalopolis" Below Guatemalan Jungle
Posted on 02/02/2018 11:30:31 AM PST by BenLurkin
[S]cholars 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....who specializes in using digital technology for archaeological research.
The project mapped more than 800 square miles (2,100 square kilometers) of the Maya Biosphere Reserve in the Petén region of Guatemala, producing the largest LiDAR data set ever obtained for archaeological research.
The results suggest that Central America supported an advanced civilization that was, at its peak some 1,200 years ago, more comparable to sophisticated cultures such as ancient Greece or China than to the scattered and sparsely populated city states that ground-based research had long suggested.
In addition to hundreds of previously unknown structures, the LiDAR images show raised highways connecting urban centers and quarries. Complex irrigation and terracing systems supported intensive agriculture capable of feeding masses of workers who dramatically reshaped the landscape.
Virtually all the Mayan cities were connected by causeways wide enough to suggest that they were heavily trafficked and used for trade and other forms of regional interaction. These highways were elevated to allow easy passage even during rainy seasons. In a part of the world where there is usually too much or too little precipitation, the flow of water was meticulously planned and controlled via canals, dikes, and reservoirs.
Among the most surprising findings was the ubiquity of defensive walls, ramparts, terraces, and fortresses. Warfare wasnt only happening toward the end of the civilization, said Garrison. It was large-scale and systematic, and it endured over many years.
(Excerpt) Read more at news.nationalgeographic.com ...
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Interesting. With newer technology, well be able to find out a lot more about all of these ancient civilizations in different parts of the world.
The Mayans had obviously had big metropolitan areas, and then something happened - possibly attacks from the Aztecs, but possibly also some disease that reduced their population even prior to the European arrival (which brought European diseases).
Of course, our big disease in the West (Europe and the Americas) is abortion, which has reduced our native populations by close some 100 million.
What I’d like to know is why such a sophisticated and complex people never got past blood sacrifice
Their SUVs undoubtedly caused warming, a drought and the collapse of their civilization.
Why didn’t he just take the idol off while holding his thumb on the pad?
He thought it would have allowed him to walk away without poison arrows, impaling stakes or giant boulders. Didnt work eh?
Same reason, I suppose, that in the movies, a guy who stepped on a mine didn’t just leap off it and run away when he heard the click.
What about a civilization that eats its god and aborts its unborn children?
They were still savages...a city full of savages is now a ruins. Imagine that /sarc
But this statement: “Weve had this western conceit that complex civilizations cant flourish in the tropics, that the tropics are where civilizations go to die” - tells you what the author’s real intent is: to try to diminish European culture and achievement.
Since the article admits they didn’t have the wheel or “beasts of burden”, it’s really hard to swallow that thought. The reality is that Mayan technology was about 3000 yrs behind Mediterranean and ultimately Northern European cultures. Everyone builds pyramids at some point in their development. All you need is rocks and slaves.
It’s still interesting. But it doesn’t mean we should bow to them and think of them as our equals in development.
I’m awestruck at the ability of the LIDAR. It was also ingenious that someone realized vegetation growing on limestone would absorb from the lime making it identifiable by satellite, implying structures beneath. They followed up, went out, and found structures.