An airborne laser mapping survey covering more than 2000 square kilometres of northern Guatemala has revealed at least 61,000 ancient structures hidden in the dense tropical forest.
The structures, which include large buildings, whole towns and networks of roads, were built by the Mayans. The oldest of them may date to before 500 BCE.
In a study published in the journal Science, researchers led by Marcello Canuto from Tulane University in the US, estimate that during the period from 650 to 800 CE, as many as 11 million Maya lived in the region. The extent of the finds compels a re-examination of the history of the area, they conclude.
Kelly Wong is the social media manager at The Royal Institution of Australia. She has a Bachelor of Biomedical Science, Allergy and Immunology, Hons Class I.
Read science facts, not fiction...
There’s never been a more important time to explain the facts, cherish evidence-based knowledge and to showcase the latest scientific, technological and engineering breakthroughs. Cosmos is published by The Royal Institution of Australia, a charity dedicated to connecting people with the world of science. Financial contributions, however big or small, help us provide access to trusted science information at a time when the world needs it most. Please support us by making a donation or purchasing a subscription today.