Lidar, an invention used fifty years ago for space exploration, has found its way into Archology in the past decade.
Lidar, short for “light detection and ranging” is causing inordinate enthusiasm throughout the archaeological world. Sixteen data points measured every square mile. Archaeologist were able to identify well-known monumental stone structures in delicate detail. They also exposed the immense urban cultures which surrounded these temples, recognizable by the mounds, canals, roads and quarries. This technology is very exciting for archaeologists. It can quickly map huge areas of ancient landscapes. The lasers are able to see through dense vegetation by numerous scans and by recording several echoes from a single pulse. The correct time of year, when the leaf coverage is reduced, makes it possible to record landscapes in tropical settings. An accomplishment which ground-based archaeologists have always had excessive difficulty with, due to dense plant coverage and often poor GPS reception. In Honduras, a large number of ancient sites have been found In the Amazon, hamlets are now beginning to emerge from beneath the rain forest canopy.