Date:

UAH team searches treetops for Maya secrets

Beneath the Guatemalan rainforests, hidden from mankind for more than a millennium, lie remains of the once vast kingdom of the Maya.

A pair of scientists from The University of Alabama in Huntsville will be in Guatemala next week to test whether a camera carried aloft by a tiny, battery-powered helicopter might one day help uncover lost Maya ruins.

UAH graduate student Casey Calamaio demonstrates the capabilities of a small, radio-controlled helicopter to a group of scientists and dignitaries from countries in South and Central America. Phillip Gentry / UAH
UAH graduate student Casey Calamaio demonstrates the capabilities of a small, radio-controlled helicopter to a group of scientists and dignitaries from countries in South and Central America.
Phillip Gentry / UAH

 

Dr. Robert Griffin, an assistant professor of Earth system science at UAH, and graduate student Casey Calamaio will spend three days testing a multi-spectral camera during brief flights of a radio-controlled helicopter over Maya ruins at Tikal and Yaxha. They will use the images – similar to those from Landsat but in much higher resolution – to look for signs of the types of plant stress frequently seen in trees growing over archaeological sites in Central America.

- Advertisement -

“If we can fly over this well-known site, which has been extensively studied for many years, and verify that what we think we’re seeing from the air matches what is actually on the ground, this might lead to a method for searching other areas that don’t have this history of archaeology,” said Griffin.

Trees growing over Maya ruins aren’t as lush because the stone blocks and lime plaster used by Maya builders prevent those plants from getting the nutrients and moisture adjacent trees get from the thin Guatemalan soil. The multi-spectral camera can see differences in plant cover and, when an area of stressed tree canopy has sharp linear edges or unnatural geometric shapes – such as a perfect square or rectangle – that could indicate the location of a Maya town or building.

Supported by the Wildlife Conservation Society, Griffin and Calamaio will use the known boundaries of the Tikal and Yaxha ruins to test the camera’s ability to pick out useful details in the rainforest canopy.

Contributing Source :  University of Alabama in Huntsville

- Advertisement -
Mark Milligan
Mark Milligan
Mark Milligan is multi-award-winning journalist and the Managing Editor at HeritageDaily. His background is in archaeology and computer science, having written over 7,500 articles across several online publications. Mark is a member of the Association of British Science Writers (ABSW), the World Federation of Science Journalists, and in 2023 was the recipient of the British Citizen Award for Education, the BCA Medal of Honour, and the UK Prime Minister's Points of Light Award.

Mobile Application

spot_img

Related Articles

Study uses satellite imagery to identify over 1,000 Andean hillforts

A new study, published in the journal Antiquity, uses satellite imagery to survey hillforts known as pukaras in the Andean highlands.

Roman defensive spikes unveiled at the Leibniz Centre for Archaeology

In 2023, archaeologists from Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main uncovered a series of wooden defensive spikes during excavations of a 1st century AD Roman fort in Bad Ems, western Germany.

Obsidian blade linked to Coronado’s expedition to find the fabled city of gold

Archaeologists suggest that a flaked-stone obsidian blade could be linked to the expedition led by Francisco Vasquez de Coronado to search for the fabled city of gold.

Clay seal stamp from First Temple period found in Jerusalem

Archaeologists have discovered a clay seal stamp from the First Temple period during excavations in the Western Wall Plaza, Jerusalem.

Offering of human sacrifices found at Pozo de Ibarra

Archaeologists from the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) have uncovered an offering of human sacrifices at the Mexican town of Pozo de Ibarra.

Excavation uncovers preserved wooden cellar from Roman period

Archaeologists from the Frankfurt Archaeological Museum have uncovered a well-preserved wooden celler in Frankfurt, Germany.

Preserved temples from the Badami Chalukya era found in India

Archaeologists from the Public Research Institute of History, Archaeology, and Heritage (PRIHAH) have announced the discovery of two temples dating from the Badami Chalukya era.

Excavation of medieval shipbuilders reveals a Roman head of Mercury

Excavations of a medieval shipbuilders has led to the discovery of a Roman settlement and a Roman head of Mercury.