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Laser Beams Penetrating Thick Canopy Detect Thousands of New Structures, Show Maya Adept at 'Buildi

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Judi Lynn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed May-12-10 08:39 AM
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Laser Beams Penetrating Thick Canopy Detect Thousands of New Structures, Show Maya Adept at 'Buildi
Laser Beams Penetrating Thick Canopy Detect Thousands of New Structures, Show Maya Adept at 'Building Green'

ScienceDaily (May 12, 2010) A flyover of Belize's thick jungles has revolutionized archaeology worldwide and vividly illustrated the complex urban centers developed by one of the most-studied ancient civilizations -- the Maya.

University of Central Florida researchers led a NASA-funded research project in April 2009 that collected the equivalent of 25 years worth of data in four days.

Aboard a Cessna 337, LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) equipment bounced 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 within 200 square kilometers (77 square miles).

UCF anthropology professors Arlen and Diane Chase have directed archaeological excavations at Caracol for more than 25 years. The hard work of machete-wielding research scientists and students has resulted in the mapping of some 23 square kilometers (9 square miles) of ancient settlement.

The NASA technology aboard the Cessna saw beyond the rainforest and detected thousands of new structures, 11 new causeways, tens of thousands of agricultural terraces and many hidden caves -- results beyond anyone's imagination. The data also confirm the size of the city (spread over 177 square kilometers or 68 square miles) and corroborate the Chases' previous estimates for the size of the population (at least 115,000 people in A.D. 650).

More:
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/1005111119...



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sybylla Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-13-10 09:19 AM
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1. How wonderful!
If you've studied this civilization at all you had to believe there's so much more about them buried in the jungle. But who wants to destroy it to find out. I'm so thrilled that they have come up with a way to take a peek without trashing everything in sight.
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Judi Lynn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-13-10 11:16 AM
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3. Let's hope new/ancient sites located this way will also be protected
when they start going in to examine them in person, not making a move until adequate controls are in place.

I've heard and read about an enormous cave discovered in the Southwest which has been kept completely undisclosed while scientists moved through, and examined thoroughly, and measures were taken to allow only the most secure areas to be open for limited, controlled public access at a much later date.

These new discoveries are unbearably fascinating. They must be protected exactly as they are. They will have far more information to offer since they haven't been trashed yet, with any luck. They must be preserved.
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sybylla Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-13-10 01:09 PM
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4. I'm with you on that.
Too many times looters and careless tourists destroy the places before anyone can get in to preserve the spaces.

This is definitely a terrific tool for getting in and protecting these sites as well.
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Judi Lynn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-13-10 11:05 AM
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2. Airborne Lasers Create 3D Images of Ancient, Modern Landscapes
Airborne Lasers Create 3D Images of Ancient, Modern Landscapes
Analysis by Tracy Staedter
Thu May 13, 2010 10:33 AM ET

In places like Belize and Cambodia, dense jungle and underbrush make it difficult for archaeologist to map the remains of ancient civilizations. It can take decades to piece together an image of ancient foundations, roadways or other structures. But one technology primarily used by ecologists and biologists to analyze vegetation cuts through jungle growth and produces detailed, three-dimensional views of landscapes in a matter of hours.

The technology is called LiDAR, which stands for light detection and ranging. It works something like radar and sonar, but instead of using radio or sound waves, it uses light, or laser signals. It can be flown from onboard an airplane, which passes back and forth, lawnmower style, over the area to be mapped. The laser shines millions of pulses of light onto the landscape, some of which bounce off of trees, shrubs, grass, hills, and rocks, and then reflect back to a sensor on the plane. The minute differences in height of the vegetation -- down to about an inch -- change the time it takes the light to reflect back. That difference is recorded by the sensor and then a computer program turns it into an image.

"You can literally peel away the vegetation," said assistant professor of archaeology Sarah Parcak, director of the Laboratory for Global Health Observation at the University of Alabama and expert in remote sensing technology.

More:
http://news.discovery.com/tech/airborne-lasers-create-3...
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