LiDAR and New Archaeological Discoveries

LiDAR and New Archaeological Discoveries

Because I am fascinated by ancient civilizations, science and archaeology, and as research for my magical, archaeological adventure book series, the Alex Cort Adventures, I subscribe to several archaeology and science magazines. In school, everyone considered “History” dull and boring. I have to say, the way history was taught to us was dull and mostly boring. Memorizing dates, to me at least, isn’t the way to remember history. It’s the battles themselves, or the tragedy and the intrigue about those battles, that captures my imagination. The more we learn about the history of the people who lived before us, the more we can appreciate the rich cultures and complicated lives those people led.

In case you aren’t familiar with LiDAR technology, here is a brief description: LiDAR is an acronym of light imaging, detection, and ranging. Drones use this surveying method to measure distance to a target by illuminating the target with pulsed laser light and measuring the reflected pulses with a sensor. Differences in laser return times and wavelengths can then be used to make digital 3-D representations of the target.

LiDAR drones are capable of peering through jungle canopies, forests, desert sands, and even under the oceans in locations around the world. For example, LiDAR surveys of areas like Guatemala and Peru are disclosing the remains of vast areas of interconnected cities, with residential areas, temples, irrigation systems, reservoirs, and tracts of land worked to provide food for large populations. More than just thousands — up to several million people lived in these extended communities. We are now able to see much more sophisticated civilizations than scientists previous to our generation believed possible. This news is very exciting!

Talking about new archaeological discoveries: new finds are validating theories of scientists from many disciplines that this world was more populated, earlier peoples were more sophisticated, and they traveled wider than ever given credit for in years past. Though this new information is controversial, it is now believed that Neanderthals, far from being the ignorant brutes they’ve been pictured to be, are to be credited with ancient cave paintings in Spain, and possibly also some of the earliest cave paintings in France. These paintings have been dated to a time before the race of modern humans, called “homo sapiens,” arrived in Europe!

Of course, there is controversy, because other scientists question the validity of these earlier dates, but that is what often happens. Whenever new ideas are presented, there will nearly always be resistance on the part of those unwilling to accept a change of their world-view. The funny thing is, though, after a while that new idea meets less resistance. Doubters are won over, or become more willing to be convinced. They start to believe this not-so-new-now idea might be possible after all, and the jeers turn into cheers. That’s why it’s always good to keep an open mind about any new discovery that might threaten your established views about how any subject “should be.” As a caution, though, use your good sense and don’t be too eager to leap into anything without careful consideration!

Learning about the history of our world can be exciting and challenging. Enjoy the exploration!

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Magical adventure author Joan K. Lacy combines research and imagination to create the Alex Cort Adventures series, a series of metaphysical, fantasy adventure books, including A Shadow Away, All Under Heaven, and more forthcoming stories. You can also find her on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Goodreads, and Google+.

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