LIDAR Uncovering Vast New Maya Discoveries in Guatemala

August 8, 2022

Archaeologists in Guatemala are using LIDAR to reveal a whole new Maya world that had been hidden from view by dense jungle foliage. LIDAR has allowed archaeologists to see through the jungle to reveal vast new areas of Maya occupation, uncovering hidden pyramids, monumental structures, whole expanses of Maya settlement. A site called El Zoitz was thought to have been a small town. LIDAR has now shown El Zotz is 40 times larger than what was thought with roads radiating from its center to outlying villages;

Near El Zotz, they have uncovered cacao fields showing agricultural specialization for the purpose of trade. LIDAR has uncovered a wall built at El Zotz to fight off attackers and a large cache of stones for ammunition.They have found a site they call La Cuernavilla which was a fortress. La Cuernavilla includes a temple, palace, housing platforms, a moat and a massive wall some 25 feet high. One side is protected by a sheer cliff, and the other is strategically fortified with defensive terraces. A watchtower sits nearby, part of a newly discovered defensive network that spreads throughout the entire Maya lowlands.

It’s the first time archaeologists have found Maya structures built expressly for warfare, and it implies an unexpected level of military engineering. And it appears that the fortress was an outlying defensive barrier for the site of Tikal. And these new LIDAR generated findings show the Maya society to be much more hierarchical and organized than ever before. has a very detailed report here with many photos.

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