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Science. 2018 Sep 28;361(6409). pii: eaau0137. doi: 10.1126/science.aau0137.

Ancient lowland Maya complexity as revealed by airborne laser scanning of northern Guatemala.

Author information

1
Middle American Research Institute, Tulane University, New Orleans, LA, USA. mcanuto@tulane.edu festrad1@tulane.edu tgarrison1@ithaca.edu.
2
Department of Anthropology, Ithaca College, Ithaca, NY, USA. mcanuto@tulane.edu festrad1@tulane.edu tgarrison1@ithaca.edu.
3
Department of Anthropology, Brown University, Providence, RI, USA.
4
Department of Anthropology, Washington University, St. Louis, MO, USA.
5
Center for Mesoamerican Studies, Comenius University, Bratislava, Slovakia.
6
Department of Anthropology, Bloomsburg University, Bloomsburg, PA, USA.
7
CNRS-ARCHAM UMR 8096, Université Paris 1-Panthéon-Sorbonne, Paris, France.
8
Department of Anthropology, Tulane University, New Orleans, LA, USA.
9
Laboratoire de Géographie Physique-CNRS UMR 8591, Université Paris 8, Paris, France.
10
Department of Anthropology, Yale University, New Haven, CT, USA.
11
Department of Theoretical Geodesy, Slovak University of Technology, Bratislava, Slovakia.
12
Department of Anthropology, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL, USA.
13
Universidad de San Carlos de Guatemala, Guatemala City, Guatemala.
14
National Center for Airborne Laser Mapping, University of Houston, Houston, TX, USA.

Abstract

Lowland Maya civilization flourished in the tropical region of the Yucatan peninsula and environs for more than 2500 years (~1000 BCE to 1500 CE). Known for its sophistication in writing, art, architecture, astronomy, and mathematics, Maya civilization still poses questions about the nature of its cities and surrounding populations because of its location in an inaccessible forest. In 2016, an aerial lidar survey across 2144 square kilometers of northern Guatemala mapped natural terrain and archaeological features over several distinct areas. We present results from these data, revealing interconnected urban settlement and landscapes with extensive infrastructural development. Studied through a joint international effort of interdisciplinary teams sharing protocols, this lidar survey compels a reevaluation of Maya demography, agriculture, and political economy and suggests future avenues of field research.

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PMID:
30262469
DOI:
10.1126/science.aau0137

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