"That is two to three times more (inhabitants) than people were saying there were", said Marcello A. Canuto, a professor of Anthropology at Tulane University.
LiDAR is a method of mapping from the sky: An airplane-mounted device sends a constant pulse of laser light across a swath of terrain; precise measurements of how long it takes the emitted breams to bounce off surfaces are taken and translated into topographic data.
The research, led by the PACUNAM Foundation -a Guatemalan non-profit heritage organisation - suggests an advanced civilisation of 10-15 million people lived in the region at its peak 1,200 years ago.
"The fortified structures and large causeways reveal modifications to the natural landscape made by the Maya on a previously unimaginable scale", said Francisco Estrada-Belli of Tulane University. Another impressive finding in the region was a highly organized workforce to build the defense and agricultural systems. The flow of water was meticulously planned and controlled via canals, dikes, and reservoirs. Further, all the ramparts and fortresses found in the ruins show that "warfare", as team member and archaeologist Thomas Garrison explained, "wasn't only happening toward the end of the civilization".
It is noted, in the course of the study, the researchers analyzed the area of 2.1 thousand square kilometers on the territory of the biosphere reserve the Maya Biosphere Reserve, located in the Department of Peten in the North of the country. Their descendants still live in the region, according to the experts.
Archaeologists in Guatemala have discovered an ancient Mayan city that they say contains around 60,000 structures.
Garrison noted that unlike some other ancient cultures, whose fields, roads and outbuildings have been destroyed by subsequent generations of farming, the jungle grew over abandoned Maya fields and structures, both hiding and preserving them.
The discovery was made with the use of LiDAR laser technology to disseminate ancient Mayan cities in Central America. But the effort in Guatemala is the largest such project ever undertaken.
"In that kind of environment where you can't see [a few feet in front of yourself], it's very hard to piece that all together", Garrison said.