In Guatemala, a Mayan city discovered in the jungle by scientists.

In Guatemala, a Mayan city discovered in the jungle by scientists.

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60,000 structures were detected thanks to a technology known as LiDAR. REUTERS / Mauricio Marat / National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH)

An international consortium of researchers has reported discovering houses, fortifications and palaces that have been hidden for centuries in the Guatemalan jungle. Under the jungle, a city asleep for centuries. An international consortium of some thirty researchers has just discovered a Mayan city of more than 2,000 km² in the jungle of the Petén region of northern Guatemala. According to National Geographic magazine, 60,000 structures (houses, fortifications, roads, palaces) have been detected thanks to a technology known as LiDAR for "Light detection and ranging".

Thanks to her, no damage is to be feared. No need to cut trees. It maps the landscape and water movements thanks to drones able to penetrate foliage and equipped with thermal sensors. This before the researchers scan the area by "digitally" removing the vegetation.

A tomb and pyramids discovered

The goal: to discover what is hidden under the jungle by restoring it in three dimensions. A process that revealed the ruins of a sprawling pre-Columbian civilization. Much larger than the specialists of the question so far assumed.

According to experts, it is no longer 2 to 5 million people who lived in the plains during the period of the Mayan civilization classic (200 to 900 after J-C) but rather 15 to 20 million. "This research is the most important culmination of Maya archeology in a century," said Thomas Garrison, archeologist at the head of the project.

In the city, a Maya pyramid near the center of the city has been identified. It was hitherto hidden and considered a natural hill. In addition, a structure described as "natural looking" could be the still intact tomb of a Mayan king.

In Guatemala, a Mayan city discovered in the jungle by scientistsScreenshots Youtube - National Geographic The results suggest that Central America was home to a more advanced civilization than previously thought. At its peak, 1,200 years ago, its operation would be comparable to the sophisticated cultures of ancient Greece or ancient China, according to the conclusions of the scientists of the PACANUM Foundation, a Guatemalan research fund, at the origin of this research.

However, even with the results enabled by these technological means, the team of researchers has planned to visit the site for more in-depth digs. They must ensure that what is represented in the LiDAR images is a reality on the ground.


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