Thursday, May 27, 2010

LiDAR Used to Map Maya

What is extraordinary about Mayan civilization is that it ended so completely.  Perhaps remnants existed to greet the Spaniards but those remnants were no different that that of dark age Western Europe.

There is no later overlay and the whole civilization can be mapped in fine detail today and perhaps even partially restored with careful reintegration of population’s revitalizing the agricultural base.

This item reports on the success of radar work in now properly mapping the region and Caracol in particular.

Four days was sufficient to map out the urban complex around Caracol.  Obviously big budgets can do it all wonderfully today and provide scholars with data for decades of work.

I expect that the economy of the Maya will emerge again as we learn how to modernize the agricultural protocols.  Ditch and Bank in particular screams for modern methods to restore activity.

Space technology used to study the Maya

by Staff Writers

Orlando, Fla. (UPI) May 18, 2010 

University of Central Florida scientists say they have used laser technology to collect 25 years worth of archaeological data on the Maya in four days.

The researchers said a flyover of Belize's thick jungles using LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) equipment has revolutionized archaeology, illustrating the complex urban centers developed by one of the most-studied ancient civilizations -- the Maya.

Aboard a Cessna 337, the scientists used LiDAR to bounce laser beams to sensors on the ground, penetrating the thick tree canopy and producing images of the ancient settlement and environmental modifications made by the inhabitants of the Maya city of Caracol.

The researchers said the technology detected thousands of new structures, 11 new causeways, tens of thousands of agricultural terraces and many hidden caves.

"It's very exciting," said UCF anthropology Professor Arlen Chase. "The images not only reveal topography and built features, but also demonstrate the integration of residential groups, monumental architecture, roadways and agricultural terraces, vividly illustrating a complete communication, transportation and subsistence system."

UCF Biology Professor John Weishampel, who designed the unique LiDAR approach, said it was the first time the specific technology fully recorded an archaeological ruin under a tropical rainforest.

"Further applications of airborne LiDAR undoubtedly will Â… effectively render obsolete traditional methods of surveying," Chase said.

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