Aerial Precision Blog

Uncovering the Past: How LiDAR Technology is Transforming Archaeology

Archaeology has always been an incredible field, giving us glimpses into the lives of ancient civilizations and unraveling the mysteries of our past. In the old days, archaeologists had to rely on painstaking excavation and surveying techniques to unearth buried artifacts and decipher ancient landscapes. But in recent years, mind-blowing technology has completely changed the game regarding exploring and understanding archaeological sites: LiDAR.

Photograph: Caracol Archaeological Project, University of Central FloridaPhotograph: Caracol Archaeological Project, University of Central Florida

LiDAR, also known as Light Detection and Ranging, is a super high-tech remote sensing technology that uses laser pulses to measure distances to the Earth's surface. This technology has turned out to be a game-changer in archaeology, allowing researchers to map ancient landscapes with unbelievable detail and accuracy. By flying drones or aircraft equipped with LiDAR over archaeological sites, archaeologists can create mind-bogglingly detailed 3D models of the terrain, revealing hidden features that the naked eye can't see.

One of the most mind-blowing things about LiDAR technology is its ability to cut through dense vegetation and uncover hidden archaeological wonders beneath the thick forest canopy. In places like Central America, where the jungle is so dense that it obscures many archaeological sites, LiDAR has blown the lid off of things. It has revealed the existence of massive ancient cities and complex networks of roads and irrigation channels that were completely unknown before.

Take the Maya region, for example. LiDAR has shown us that these ancient cities were way more advanced and interconnected than we ever thought. In Guatemala, a ginormous ancient Maya city was discovered hidden beneath a thick jungle, all thanks to the power of LiDAR. It's like something out of an Indiana Jones movie!

tikal jungleA LiDAR scan of the ancient Maya city of Tikal. Image from Marcello Canuto/PACUNAM.

But LiDAR's awesomeness continues beyond mapping landscapes. It can also detect and analyze subtle changes in the elevation of the terrain, which can reveal buried structures or other archaeological features. When archaeologists combine LiDAR data with other archaeological evidence, a new world opens up. They can gain fresh insights into ancient settlement patterns, how people used the land, and even their cultural activities.

Let's look at the ancient Maya city of Caracol in Belize. LiDAR showed us terraced fields and agricultural practices that were completely unknown before. It's a new perspective on how these ancient societies managed their environments. LiDAR has also been an absolute game-changer in uncovering the layout and infrastructure of ancient Olmec cities. It's shedding light on their urban planning and how their society was organized.

Our cutting-edge LiDAR sensor, the AP-LiDAR-One Gen II, is perfect for all your archaeological needs. With its advanced features, like dual-antenna GNSS and survey-grade IMU, the AP-LiDAR-One Gen II delivers survey-grade point clouds that give you invaluable insights into the past.


AP-LiDAR-One Gen II sensor in the field

To sum up, LiDAR technology is completely changing the game in archaeology. It's unlocking long-lost secrets and completely reshaping our understanding of ancient civilizations. Archaeologists now have a potent tool thanks to LiDAR sensors like the AP-LiDAR-One Gen II. They can explore and document archaeological sites with unprecedented detail and accuracy. It's truly mind-blowing!

By embracing this advanced technology, we're on the verge of unearthing countless hidden stories from our ancestors. It's paving the way for a deeper connection with our shared human history. Exciting times lie ahead!