The Maya civilization continues to surprise us with new and important discoveries. Prior to the European arrival they reigned over Central America and southern Mexico with their advanced technology and knowledge. However, it is today's technology and ability to explore that has led to this new and amazing discovery in Guatemala - a 1,500 year old Mayan altar was discovered at La Corona, among many other structures and whole villages buried in the dense jungle.
The research group is composed of members of Tulane University and was able to add information about the Kaanul dynasty. The altar is made of limestone and has the image of Chak Took Ich'aak, a king unknown until now. It is also an example of the fact that La Corona played a fundamental role in territorial expansion and power.
LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) is a type of laser scanning technology that allowed researchers at Tulane University to find dozens of ancient Mayan cities in Guatemala. Making a map with images obtained despite the thick jungle of the place can find walls and human constructions.
This technique is described by Brown University:
"(LIDAR) provides a powerful technique for mapping three-dimensional topographic elements. It has proven to be a valuable tool in archeology, particularly where the remains of structures could be hidden beneath the dense rainforest."
If LIDAR technology had not been available, it would probably have taken us many decades or even centuries to uncover these 60,000 plus buildings. Many of the structures are streets, buildings and altars that show that the Maya were much more numerous and advanced than we thought.