Researchers using a high-tech aerial mapping technique called LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) revealed contours hidden by dense foliage. They may have found tens of thousands of previously undetected Mayan houses, buildings, and pyramids in the dense jungle of Guatemala’s Petén region. The researchers believe that there were millions more people living there than previously thought. The estimate is that 10 million people lived in the lowlands.
US, European and Guatemalan archaeologists working with Guatemala’s Mayan Heritage and Nature Foundation made the discoveries, which included industrial-sized agricultural fields and irrigation canals.
The study estimates that because of the amount of people in the region they might have needed to provide massive food production so 95% of the available land was cultivated.
The Mayan people were a highly organized workforce that showed in their extensive defense fences, ditches, and irrigation canals.
In the 830 square miles of mapping they detected about 60,000 individual structures, ceremonial centers, plazas, and pyramids. Moats were also built which suggested that the Mayan people were under attack from other Central American people.
The Maya culture flourished between 1000 BC until about 1500 AD and some of their descendants still live in the region.