Very modern method lifts the lid on very ancient culture

Lifestyle

Very modern method lifts the lid on very ancient culture

Using remote-sensing, researchers have uncovered 478 Olmec and Maya ceremonial centres in Mexico

WILL DUNHAM

Aerial remote-sensing of a large region of Mexico has revealed hundreds of ancient Mesoamerican ceremonial centres, including a large one at an important site for the ancient Olmec culture that is known for its colossal stone heads.

The remote-sensing method, called lidar, pinpointed 478 ceremonial centres in areas that were home to the ancient Olmec and Maya cultures, dating to roughly 1100 to 400BC, researchers said this week. The study was the largest such survey involving ancient Mesoamerica, covering the state of Tabasco, southern Veracruz and bits of Chiapas, Campeche and Oaxaca.

Lidar, short for light detection and ranging, uses a pulsed laser and other data obtained while flying over a site to generate three-dimensional information about the shape of surface characteristics. It penetrates vegetation and pinpoints structures that otherwise might not be seen from the air or ground...

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