Nat Geo Exclusive: Laser Scans Reveal Maya “Megalopolis” Below Guatemalan Jungle

A vast, interconnected network of ancient cities was home to millions more people than previously thought.

National Geographic has exclusively reported a “major breakthrough” in Maya archaeology. Researchers, including three National Geographic Explorers, have identified the ruins of more than 60,000 houses, palaces, elevated highways, and other human-made features that have been hidden for centuries under the jungles of northern Guatemala. The results suggest that Central America supported an advanced civilization that was more comparable to sophisticated cultures such as ancient Greece or China.

So, how did they make this revolutionary discovery?

Using a technology known as LiDAR (short for “Light Detection And Ranging”), scholars digitally removed the tree canopy from aerial images of the now-unpopulated landscape, revealing the ruins of a sprawling pre-Columbian civilization that was far more complex and interconnected than most Maya specialists had supposed.

For the full story, click HERE.

For the drop box of images and usage requirements, click HERE.

See how LiDAR is rewriting the history of the Maya in “Lost Treasures of the Maya Snake Kings,” a one-hour National Geographic Special, premiering February 6 on the National Geographic Channel.

**National Geographic Explorers, Albert Lin, Francisco Estrada-Belli and Thomas Garrison are available for interviews.

For press inquiries contact:

Kelsey Taylor, kelsey.taylor@natgeo.com, 202-912-6776
Anna Kukelhaus Dynan, anna.kukelhaus@natgeo.com, 202-912-6724