They find 'hidden treasures' when exploring a Mayan 'highway' with LiDAR

They find 'hidden treasures' when exploring a Mayan 'highway' with LiDAR

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A group of scientists from the University of Miami (USA) have explored with modern laser technology a 100 kilometer stone Mayan road and that 13 centuries ago, connected the ancient cities of Cobá and Yaxuná in the Yucatan Peninsula.

The study, published in the Journal of Archaeological Science, is the first investigation of the Mayan ‘highway’ with ‘LiDAR’ technology, consisting of a laser that deeply scans the ground even through thick vegetation, revealing the topography of the terrain, as well as any artificial features.

This tool has allowed scientists better study the ‘sacbé’ —As elevated cobbled roads built by the Maya were known— and identify more than 8,000 structures of different sizes hidden by trees along the road, with a total volume sufficient to fill approximately 2,900 Olympic swimming pools.

What was the Mayan ‘highway’ like?

The investigation further confirmed that the way, which measures about 8.5 meters wide, it is not a straight line, as was supposed, but it deviated to incorporate pre-existing towns and cities between Cobá and Yaxuná, connecting "thousands of people who lived in the intermediate region," archaeologist Traci Ardren, lead author of the study, explained in a statement.

«The ‘LiDAR’ really allowed us to understand the road in much more detail", helping "identify many new towns and cities along the way, new to us, but pre-existing«, Expresses Ardren.

Researchers believe that the road was built shortly before 700 by order of K’awiil Ajaw, powerful leader of the city of Cobá, and who was "one of the last efforts of Cobá to maintain its power" before the rise of the emerging city of Chichén Itzá.

Image: Stock Photos, by ahau1969 / Shutterstock

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