Laser technology reveals ‘world’s first highway system’ in Mayan zone of Guatemala and Mexico


Reuters.- A “relevant” system of roads built centuries before the Christian era has been discovered along with hundreds of ancient archaeological sites in the Mayan area of Guatemala and Mexico, thanks to innovative laser technology, those responsible for the discovery reported on Monday.

The research mapped 964 ancient settlements in 417 cities in the jungle of Petén, in northern Guatemala, and part of Campeche, as well as a “complex” network of roads some 40 meters wide and an elevation on banks of between two and five meters.

The researchers called it “the world’s first highway or superhighway system,” in a statement from the seven foundations and organizations in charge of the Mirador-Calakmul Karst Basin project, including National Geographic and Global Conservation.

To find the cities and roads, most of which date back to the Preclassic and Late periods (from 1000 BC to the early years of our era), two overflights were carried out in 2015 and 2018 using LiDAR, a scientific technique to penetrate the forest cover using laser beams.

“This technology gave us the opportunity to reveal the majesty of that and understand the importance of (the) Preclassic era,” said Richard Hansen, project manager, at a press conference to present the results of the research.

The inspected area “demonstrates the capacity of the Mayan peoples, organized and adapted to live in a tropical forest environment, indicating a high level of organization and a sophisticated socio-political and economic structure when creating a kingdom-state”, points out the release.

The discovery could be one of the most transcendent around the Mayan civilization, whose prime dates back to the period between 250 and 900 AD, when it extended its dominance over the south of present-day Mexico and what are now Belize, El Salvador , Guatemala and Honduras.

Thanks to the revelations, previously published by the University of Cambridge, experts believe that there are many treasures hidden under the jungle foliage.

Source: Forbes