The Power of “Lidar”

Today, National Geographic reported that archaeologists have found what may have been a legendary lost city in the jungles of Honduras, known as “La Cuidad Blanco (The White City)”. Although previous expeditions have claimed to have found it, none have had any hard proof of its existence.

That is, until a recent expedition by an archaeological team. During this expedition, the team was able to map out a substantial portion of the ruins including a plaza, a pyramid and several mounds. The reason why this expedition was successful was because they knew what they were looking for this time around. See, in 2012 the same group did a flyover of the area, and mapped it using “LIDAR”. LIDAR, or “Laser Illuminated Detection and Ranging” is a method that uses lasers to measure distance based upon an analysis of the light reflection. This is very similar to how sonar detection works, which uses sound waves to map distance instead.

Using LIDAR, the researchers were able to identify a section of jungle where human hands had reshaped the lands near a river for nearly a stretch of a mile. Then, after securing the area from looters, the Honduras Special Forces escorted the archaeological team to the site, where they were able to recover a large cache of relics.

To see how else LIDAR is being used in the archaeological world, and for more information about its benefits/limits, check out this article!

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