An American couple is using advanced technology to discover an ancient civilization that may hold the key to creating the cities of the future.
Diane and Arlen Chase shared a lifelong commitment to exploration. In 1985, the pair came upon the ruins of Caracol, an ancient Mayan city in Belize that was first discovered in 1937 and includes the country’s tallest structure.
Diane Chase said that when they first arrived, there was “no architecture visible” and it all looked like ordinary hills. Since then, they have excavated more than 400 buildings and uncovered hundreds of thousands of artifacts. At first, they relied on traditional archaeological methods, but that all changed in 2009, when they were able to use a revolutionary technology called LiDAR, an airborne laser mapping system that can see through trees and reveal hidden spots that would otherwise have been decades away. may take discovery
Adrian Chase, the couple’s son, gave a demonstration to CBS News, revealing how the technology can make the area appear to be nothing more than bare ground and provide a sense of different structures in the landscape.
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“When we saw the LiDAR results, it was amazing, because suddenly we had control of the space. We could see where the structures were and where they weren’t under the trees,” Arlen Chase said. “This is, in our minds, the equivalent of radiocarbon dating. Radiocarbon dating gives us control over time. LiDAR can control space in our Maya areas.”
Learning about the city of Caracol reveals more about the past: The Chases say it can also be an inspiration for today’s urban planners.
“If you look at how Caracas is built, it’s an incredibly planned city. I think we can learn something for planning. It’s a walkable city, it’s a green city. The reservoirs are located so people can access them, there are fields. . Close to almost every home. Plus, almost everyone can go to a market,” Diane Chase explained.
The area is not entirely urban: there are also what Diane Chase describes as suburban or residential sites. Some of these sites were discovered with LiDAR technology. In these digs, the Chasers are looking for architecture that can tell them how many people lived in houses in the area. The digging is done by hand, Diane Chase said, adding that those houses were first built.
Almost as impressive as the wreckage uncovered is the teamwork between the chases. The two even finished each other’s sentences.
“We work very well together,” says Diane Chase. “Some people say ‘How can you work with your husband?’ or ‘How can you work with your wife?’, without knowing us of course, and we’re a good team.”