Maya Megalopolis

You may remember learning about the Maya in school, and you may have heard of Chichén Itzá (UNESCO) because it is often included on recent lists of “World Wonders” (as well as being a convenient day drive from Cancún). Here’s a 360° Video that will give you a sense of what it’s like to see Chichén Itzá.

There are also other less heavily promoted places where you can see Maya ruins, and one of the most impressive and famous is in Tikal, Guatemala (UNESCO). Here’s a 360° Video that will give you a sense of what it’s like to visit those ruins.

It is actually these ruins that are receiving more attention right now, and that is because an organization called Fundación Patrimonio Cultural y Natural Maya (Pacunam) backed a project to use a “laser” technology called Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) to discover and map what is being called a “megalopolis” built by the Maya from 250 to 950 CE. Here is a short video from NBC Nightly News and two news stories about it.

Sprawling Maya network discovered under Guatemala jungle (BBC)
Laser mapping uncovers dozens of ancient Mayan cities (Oscar Holland, CNN)

Here is a slightly longer, in-depth story from CBS This Morning that also mentions a nifty Augmented Reality (AR) application that makes it possible to “navigate” LiDAR data.

Of course, as you watch and read these stories, it is hard to miss that all of this publicity is timed to promote a new, one-hour National Geographic special entitled Lost Treasures of the Maya Snake Kings. It is premiering this week on the National Geographic Channel, and here’s a story from National Geographic about the discovery that also promotes the program.
Exclusive: Laser Scans Reveal Maya “Megalopolis” Below Guatemalan Jungle (Tom Clynes, National Geographic)

So, catch the show if you want to learn more about this discovery, and if you’re in the mood for a bit more arm-chair travel, there are also other 360° Videos of Maya ruins on YouTube.

Find out more about Central America, The Americas and History in general…