Ruins of Lost City May Lurk Deep in Honduras Rain Forest
Stephanie Pappas, LiveScience Senior Writer
Date: 15 May 2013 Time: 08:51 AM ET
Lidar technology allows researchers to strip away the forest canopy and reveals features beneath, including this mysterious mound that may be a sign of ancient civilization in the Honduras rainforest.|
CREDIT: UTL Scientific, LLC
Archaeologists and filmmakers Steven Elkins and Bill Benenson announced last year that they had discovered possible ruins in Honduras' Mosquitia region using lidar, or light detection and ranging. Essentially, slow-flying planes send constant laser pulses groundward as they pass over the rain forest, imaging the topography below the thick forest canopy.
What the archaeologists found — and what the new images reveal — are features that could be ancient ruins, including canals, roads, building foundations and terraced agricultural land. The University of Houston archaeologists who led the expedition will reveal their new images and discuss them today (May 15) at the American Geophysical Union Meeting of the Americas in Cancun.
Whether or not the lidar-weilding archaeologists have discovered the same city the conquistadors were looking for is up for debate, but the images suggest some signs of an ancient lost civilization.
"We use lidar to pinpoint where human structures are by looking for linear shapes and rectangles," Colorado State University Stephen Leisz, who uses lidar in Mexico, said in a statement. "Nature doesn't work in straight lines."
The archaeologists plan to get their feet on the ground this year to investigate the mysterious features seen in the new images.