An aerial survey over northern Guatemala has turned up over 60,000 new Maya structures, including pyramids, causeways, house foundations and defensive fortifications.
It’s a watershed discovery that has already led archaeologists to new sites to excavate and explore. The findings may also revise estimates of how many ancient Maya once lived in the region upward by “multiple factors,” said Tom Garrison, an archaeologist who specializes in the Maya culture and is part of the consortium that funded and organized the survey. Far more ancient Maya lived on the landscape than there are people in the region today, Garrison told Live Science, and they did it without the destructive slash-and-burn agriculture that is crippling the jungle in modern times.
The finding of a sprawling Maya population shows there are means of supporting people in the area without destroying the forest, said Lisa Lucero, an anthropologist at the University of Illinois who was not involved in the new survey.