Couple work to unearth secrets of lost Mayan civilization

An American couple is using cutting-edge technology to track down an ancient civilization that holds the key to building the cities of the future.

Diane and Arlen Chase share a lifelong commitment to discovery. In 1985, the pair came upon the ruins of Caracol, an ancient Maya 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 in sight” and it all looked like plain hills. Since then, they have excavated more than 400 buildings and recovered hundreds of thousands of artifacts. At first, they relied on traditional archeological methods, but that all changed in 2009, when they were able to test a revolutionary technology called LiDAR, an airborne laser mapping system that sees through trees. can and do reveal hidden locations that might otherwise take decades. discovery.

Adrian Chase, the couple’s son, gave a demonstration to CBS News, explaining how the technology can make an area appear to be nothing more than empty land and provide a sense of different structures in the landscape. Is.

Diane and Arlen Chase.

CBS Saturday Morning

“When we saw the LiDAR results, it was extraordinary, because suddenly we had control over the space. We could see where the structures were and where they weren’t under those trees,” Arlen Chase said. . “It’s equivalent, in our minds, to radiocarbon dating. Radiocarbon dating gives us control over time. LiDAR can give us control over space in the Maya region.”

Learning about the city of Karakol provides more information about the past: Chasis said it can also be an inspiration for today’s urban planners.

“If you look at how Caracol is built, it’s an incredibly planned city. I think we can learn something for this project. It’s a walkable city, it’s a green city. Located so that people have access, there are fields. Almost every house. Also, almost everyone can go to the market.” Diane Chase explained.

The area is not entirely urban: what Diane Chase describes as suburbs or residential areas. Some of these sites were discovered with LiDAR technology. In this excavation, the Chasis are looking for architecture that can tell them how many people lived in the houses in the area. Dianne Chase said the excavation is done by hand, which is how those houses were originally built.

Almost as impressive as the exposed ruins is the teamwork between the thing. Both also finish each other’s sentences.

“We work very well together,” Diane Chase said. “Some people say, ‘How can you work with your husband?’ or ‘How can you work with your wife?’, don’t know us, of course, and we’re a good team.”

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