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June 4, 2010

Technology helps uncover ancient city

Caracol, BelizeThe next time you’re in a forest, imagine a building hiding in the earth just steps away from where you’re walking.

According to National Geographic, a 2009 survey using Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) equipment revealed images of an ancient Mayan city stretching over 68 square miles in western Belize. Presented at the recent International Symposium on Archaeometry, in just four days, the airborne lasers showed thousands of structures, 11 roads and thousands of agricultural terraces previously unknown to researchers.

Anthropologists Arlen and Diane Chase, directors of the University of Central Florida Caracol Archaeological Project, have been working in the area for years but have seen only a small fraction of the ruins. The funding for the 2009 LiDAR survey came from NASA, and the survey itself was performed by the National Center for Airborne Laser Mapping.

This survey, along with the recent news that scientists have found more than 200 earthworks in Brazil’s upper Amazon basin with the aid of Google Earth images, lets us see the broad reach of these ancient settlements. Even though they’re far from ready for travelers to see firsthand, it gives us a clearer picture of just how much the natural world can hide the past.

Have you given some of your travel time to help an archaeological project? Would you? Where?

Posted by | Comments (4) 
Category: Central America, Travel News


4 Responses to “Technology helps uncover ancient city”

  1. Arundhati Says:

    Wow, this is interesting. How does one even sign up for an archaeological project?

  2. Jennifer Says:

    I’ve been able to help out on a project in Belize. It’s really impressive to start to realize a lot of the hills in Belize are possibly undiscovered pyramids.

    If you google volunteer and the country you would like to work in, you should find opportunities. Look up your local archaeology groups to get started.

  3. Rebecca Says:

    Being on an archaeological project could be a bitter sweet experience for some. On the one hand, it would be awesome to find ancient ruins that haven’t been discovered and that could give everyone insight into man’s evolution. Discovering roads, housing, tools, and other items would be a great way to learn about an ancient civilization and their sophistication. On the other hand, many people would exploit the findings for their own gain and probably take ownership of the property and eventually destroy it.

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