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Ancient Maya cities revealed in latest study

STORY: Location: El Mirador, Guatemala

Nearly 1,000 ancient Maya settlements

have been revealed in a new study

The discovery includes 417 cites linked by

what may be the world's first highway network

They had been hidden for millennia by the dense

jungles of northern Guatemala and southern Mexico

LiDAR technology was used to shoot

pulses of light into the dense forest

allowing researchers to peel away vegetation

and map ancient structures underneath

The findings were first published last month

in the journal 'Ancient Mesoamerica'

[Josephine Thompson, Director of Mirador Conservation Plan, FARES]

“LiDAR captured 1,700 acres of square kilometers of terrain exposing all of the built features and their interconnections with hydrologic systems, transportation networks, car ways, residential zones, agricultural zones and also how this cultural system was interconnected with the natural system.”

All of the newly-identified structures were built

centuries before the largest Maya city-states emerged

They date back to around 1,000-350 BC