Spirits haunt ancient Mayan structures

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Spirits haunt ancient Mayan structures

Art by Kayla Johnson

Art by Kayla Johnson

Art by Kayla Johnson

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With the technological breakthrough of new and improved LiDAR laser analysis earlier this year in Germany, Tulane University researchers have uncovered 61,000 ancient Mayan structures hidden beneath the canopy of the Guatemalan jungle believed to be haunted.

The discovery of these structures, which contradicts the assumptions that the region was sparsely populated throughout its history of habitation, has yielded new information regarding the Mayan lifestyle.

“These geophysical surveys make archeology easier and the biggest improvement that the satellites send a lot of information that is immediately digested,” said history teacher Mr. Cory Jensen.
The study held by the university’s researchers spanned 830 square miles, and included 15 laser pulses according to the Washington Post. LiDAR lasers uncover new information from previous studies because they penetrate the thick canopy of the jungle in which these structures are buried.

LiDAR lasers operate similar to radar, except they use laser pulses instead of radio waves. The light of the laser is unresponsive to vegetation, a distinct difference from traditional radio waves. They stop scanning when the pulses sense harder surfaces such as stone, which then creates a three dimensional projection of the structure. This made locating the structures, which were primarily constructed of stone and early forms of brick, simpler than expected by the Tulane researchers.

“I’m surprised how much they actually knew compared to what scientists say they knew,” said sophomore Gabby Godzecki.

Head researcher, Marcello Canuto, spent nearly 5 months studying ancient stories and songs written by the Mayan people to uncover which aspect of the civilization is allegedly haunted. Some structures discovered, such as ceremonial centers and large burial grounds, contained the “souls of the ancestors” and “the judgement of past generations.” It was commonly assumed in stories that the living were constantly being watched and judged by the dead, and that their souls would roam their homes and meeting places for eternity.

“I’m not very surprised that they claim the structures are haunted,” said sophomore Michal Brankin. “The new technology and folk stories together will uncover knowledge never known before.”

Roads, canals, and other forms of sophisticated infrastructure were also discovered in a 41 square miles radius. This poses the contradiction to past beliefs of the Mayan civilization previously in regards to agriculture, and basic understanding of sanitation.

Despite this groundbreaking discovery, there are still layers of the Mayan history yet to be uncovered. With future generations planning to improve this LiDAR technology, countless structures will be excavated and views on civilizations will be challenged.

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