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LIDAR mapping has allowed experts to discover a sophisticated ancient network of roads –dubbed as the first network of ancient supehrighways— in addition to an entire Acropolis belonging to the Ancient Maya.
Researchers of the Cuenca Mirador Archaeological Project have recently discovered constructions under the Guatemalan jungle that constitute “findings of great importance” for the study of Mayan culture.
This unprecedented discovery was made by scans made with a high-precision laser of the terrain surrounding the Mayan city of El Mirador, located in the heart of the Peten jungle, on the border with Mexico.
LIDAR mapping, which scans the terrain with a laser that can penetrate the canopy of vegetation at a rate of 560,000 dots per second, has allowed identifying unique archaeological features in 2D and 3D images that constitute “important findings” for the study of the Mayan culture.
Topographer Josephine Thompson says that this technology has helped make countless discoveries in two years, which would have taken around forty years without the technology.
Researchers have observed an entire Acropolis, pyramids, terraces, canals, dikes, walls and a network of roads that stretch over 240 kilometers in the area.
These infrastructures, are considered as “the first network of superhighway’s of the world,” and were used mainly for the transport of goods, according to reports by EFE.
The works carried out in the area allowed American scientist Richard Hansen, who leads research to conclude that Guatemala “has the privilege of being the cradle of Mayan civilization,” with the highest pyramids and a “unique” road network.
This investigation, says Hansen, has allowed us to come to the conclusion that the Ancient Maya had a sophisticated system of corrals, which may be evidence of the first meat production system at an industrial level. Further studies are needed to confirm this theory.
The area of Peten is a jungle region that has numerous ruins from the time of ancient Mayan splendor. It is also one of the most important environmental lungs of the American continent. El Mirador – known as the Kan Kingdom – covers an area of 2,158 square kilometers.
It is estimated that at least 1 million people inhabited the area before its collapse in 150 BC.
Featured image: Photo courtesy of the Archaeological Project Cuenca Mirador. LIDAR technology.