LiDAR Technology has revealed Mayan mega city hidden in Guatemalan jungle

Overview of the project

Overview of the project

The Maya civilization - one of the most well-known civilization in the world renowned for its art, architecture, mathematics, calendar and astronomical system that flourished in the pre-Columbian Americas. In its heyday, the civilization occupied the entire southeastern Mexico, all of Guatemala, Belize, and the western portions of Honduras and El Salvador. Millenniums later, what is left of the ancient wonders are concentrated in the Maya city of Tikal in north-east Guatemala; or at least that was what archaeologists previously thought.

A nonprofit organization, Pacunam Foundation, led a consortium of researchers to participate in a three-year project that will eventually map more than 14,000 square kilometers of jungle using LiDAR. Mounted on a drone, the first phase of the project mapped more than 2,100 square kilometers area of jungle around the lost city of Tikal, unveiling more than 60,000 structures including palaces, bridges, fortifications, dwellings, and other human-made features that have been lost for centuries below the canopy. The results suggest that Central America supported an advanced civilization that was, at least 3 to 4 times larger than previously estimated.

Laser scans revealed more than 60,000 previously unknown Maya structures that were part of a vast network of cities, fortifications, farms, and highways.

Laser scans revealed more than 60,000 previously unknown Maya structures that were part of a vast network of cities, fortifications, farms, and highways.

What would have taken decades using traditional techniques on the ground was done in just 50 hours from the air. With a lot of computing muscle and human expertise, scientists created a "treasure map" of the jungle floor. Stripped of the jungle canopy, two millennia of Maya civilization have been laid bare for the first time. We will definitely hear more discoveries in the future, since this is only the initiative's first phase; and we should not be surprised that history books be rewritten then, at the rate they are progressing.

Tikal Point Cloud data

Tikal Point Cloud data

Merlion Point Cloud data

Merlion Point Cloud data

Here in Aries Geomatics, we are committed to ensuring heritage sites are available to future generations. The cost to safeguard history is priceless. With the assistance of the 3D Laser Scanning technology, we are now able to capture detailed 3D representations of world’s significant cultural heritage sites before they are lost to natural disasters, destroyed by human aggression or ravaged by the passage of time. So stay calm fellow Singaporeans, we have documented Singapore's iconic Merlion. Archaeologists in the future will be able reconstruct the statue even if our civilization collapsed.

Disclaimer: All pictures and technical information are from Pacunam official site. For more accurate information, please visit http://www.pacunam.org/