A team of archaeologists working in Mexico has made an unprecedented discovery…using lasers.
Led by the University of Arizona’s Takeshi Inomata, researchers uncovered a long-forgotten Mayan ceremonial platform in Tabasco, Mexico.
The massive structure measures more than 4,500 feet long — about 800 feet short of a mile — and probably rose over 50 feet tall.
Scientists believe the platform was built 3,000 years ago.
Findings like this are especially rare because of the sheer size of the structure. If you’re on the ground, you probably wouldn’t notice anything out of the ordinary other than a few strange hills.
That’s where the lasers come in handy.
The technology applied in this case is known as an aerial lidar survey.
Lidar detects the distance to objects and surfaces by bouncing lasers off them to create images. The images are then combined with powerful software to create 3D topographic maps, showing structures that are hidden underneath jungle, rock, or even cities.
The structure found in Tabasco, named Aguada Fénix, is the largest and oldest structure of its kind ever found in Mexico.