A group of scientists discovered a network of communication channels that linked the civic ceremonial centers and the agricultural production infrastructure of the Dzibanché settlement system and the centers of Ichbakal and El Cedral, within the state of Quintana Roo.
This discovery was made with the technology called Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR), which is able to “penetrate” with laser pulses the vegetation cover, which in this area features trees up to 20 or 30 meters high.
The scientific group is made up of specialists from the Institute of Anthropological Research (IIA) of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), as well as the national school and institute of Anthropology and History (ENAH and INAH, respectively).
Gerardo Jiménez Delgado, of UNAM, affirmed that in this investigation they visualized the integration of the urban space that is underneath the jungle in the Maya area: housing units, agricultural and communications infrastructure, buildings and temples, all in one image.
“We have detected communication routes, an authentic network of roads that linked the ceremonial civic centers, in addition to the agricultural production infrastructure that consisted of raised fields, ridges, albarradas and containers for the storage of water on a large scale” said the specialist through a statement issued by UNAM.
The specialists affirmed that they have observed sacbés (Maya roads) that connect Dzibanché, Kinichná and Tutil, wider than a highway, besides an “impressive” hydraulic infrastructure, connecting dozens of aguadas, one of 365 by 375 meters wide and three meters deep, where the ancient Maya were able to store millions of liters of water.
That is why the experts are about to investigate why roads have these dimensions, to have an idea of how many people inhabited the area, which they can tell by the size of the hydraulic system.
Dzibanché, Maya word that means “writing in wood”, was an important city that had its climax in the Early Classic period, and that dominated a wide territory to the south of Quintana Roo. It was discovered in the 1920s by the English archaeologist Thomas Gann.
It is an atypical site, because unlike other areas in the central Petén, such as Tikal, in this city there are several architectural groups, such as Tutil and Kinichná, which are joined by sacbés.
In November 2017, Adriana Velázquez Morlet, of the INAH Quintana Roo, made the arrangements to cover with LIDAR technology the strip that goes from Dzibanché to Ichkabal, 12 kilometers to the northeast. The LIDAR is a laser sensor that can be installed on an airplane, helicopter or drone, and emits thousands of pulses of laser energy per second, which bounce on the surface and create a graphic image.
The resulting product is a cloud of points, each in X, Y and Z axes. The use of this tool promises a paradigmatic change in the way of understanding the societies of ancient Mexico. Even more: this research, which includes the study of agricultural systems, could impact the present, and by understanding why and how the Maya inhabited the region and apply it today.
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