Giuseppe Sandro Mela.
«In archaeology, there are few watershed moments, when a technological breakthrough changes everything. But the invention of radiocarbon dating in the 1940s brought one such revolution, by providing a consistent, worldwide system for placing archaeological material in chronological order»
«A more-recent transformative innovation is the airborne application of a remote-sensing technique called light detection and ranging (lidar) to create a model (also known as a digital-elevation model) of the bare-surface terrain that is hidden by trees in forested areas»
«Lidar is changing archaeological study of the ancient Maya in Mexico and Central America»
«It is increasing the speed and scale of discovery, and reshaping our understanding of the antiquity of monumental-scale landscape alteration»
«Lidar requires an aeroplane or drone to fly over the area of interest. Laser pulses are emitted and signals bouncing back generate what is termed a point cloud of data points»
«Expert image processing and prodigious computer capacity can then yield models of bare terrain from which the vegetation has been digitally removed. In areas where dwellings, platforms, pyramids and even palaces can be obscured by high-canopy vegetation, a bare-terrain model yields something close to a topographic map of the surface. Straight lines and corners in a bare-terrain model suggest elements that have human rather than geological origins»
«Generating such models might not sound impressive for arid landscapes, but it is a game changer where high-canopy trees obscure the view. Lidar images from one plane flight can provide more information than can be generated by decades of conventional archaeological surveys»
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«Advanced laser mapping has revealed more than 60,000 ancient Mayan structures beneath the jungles of northern Guatemala.
Set across dozens of hidden cities, the discoveries include houses, palaces and a 90-foot-tall pyramid that was previously thought to be a hill.
Made possible through special laser-equipped airplanes that can “see” through dense jungle, the groundbreaking research suggests that Mayan metropolises were far larger and more complex than previously thought.
Evidence of agriculture, irrigation, quarries and defensive fortifications were widespread, and extensive road networks point to initially unknown levels of interconnectivity between settlements.»
«Known as the earliest form of non-residential architecture in the Maya lowlands, E Groups were used for naked-eye astronomy. Some, such as those found by Inomata and colleagues, were built up to 3,000 years ago and, interestingly, they pre-date even a clear footprint of settlement in the form of dwellings and villages»