Ancient city of 60000 structures discovered under Guatemala Petén Jungle

The study estimates that roughly 10 million people may have lived within the Maya Lowlands meaning that kind of massive food production might have been needed

The discovery made in the Paten region of Guatemala has complex structures such as industrial-sized agricultural fields and irrigation canals.

The study estimates that roughly 10 million people may have lived within the Maya Lowlands, meaning that kind of massive food production might have been needed.

"This was a civilization that was literally moving mountains", Marcello Canuto, an archaeologist at Tulane University, told National Geographic.

LiDAR is a method of mapping from the sky: An airplane-mounted device sends a constant pulse of laser light across a swath of terrain; precise measurements of how long it takes the emitted breams to bounce off surfaces are taken and translated into topographic data.

Most of the 60,000 structures found are thought to be stone platforms that would have supported the average Maya home.

"The fortified structures and large causeways reveal modifications to the natural landscape made by the Maya on a previously unimaginable scale", said Francisco Estrada-Belli of Tulane University.

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The team of archaeologists surveyed over 810 square miles of the Peten jungle. Their descendants still live in the region. Now, technology that allows for digital deforestation has uncovered thousands of new Maya structures previously undetected beneath smothering vegetation. The findings and the technology behind them - LiDAR (light detection and ranging) - will be the focus of a new National Geographic documentary to premiere on February 6 at 9 p.m. EST titled "Lost Treasures of the Maya Snake King". "Now we have so much data", Garrison said.

This technique, called Ligth Detection And Ranging, has reveled, for the first time, dozens of ancient Mayan cities in the Petén jungle, allowing researchers to get a better feel for the urbanism, agriculture and the war of that civilization.

Garrison's research is responsible for the largest-ever LiDAR survey for an archaeological project.

"It's this hill-top citadel that has these ditch and rampart systems. when I went there, one of these things in nine meters tall", he noted.

"As soon as we saw this we all felt a little sheepish", said Canuto said of the LiDAR images, "because these were things that we had been walking over all the time".

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