The pair work to uncover the secrets of the lost Mayan civilization

An American couple uses advanced technology to uncover an ancient civilization that may hold the key to building the cities of the future.

Diane and Arlene Chase share a lifelong dedication to research. In 1985, the pair visited the ruins of Caracol, an ancient Mayan city in Belize that was first discovered in 1937 and includes the country’s tallest structure.

According to Diane Chase, when they first arrived, “there was no architecture in sight” and everything looked like a simple hillside. Since then, they have excavated more than 400 buildings and found hundreds of thousands of artifacts. At first, they relied on traditional archaeological methods, but that all changed in 2009, when they had the chance to try a revolutionary technology called LiDAR, an airborne laser map that can see trees and reveal hidden places. open.

The couple’s son, Adrian Chase, gave a demonstration to CBS News, showing how the technology can make the area look like nothing more than bare ground and provide a sense of the various structures in the landscape.

Diane and Arlene Chase.

CBS Saturday Mornings

“When we saw the LiDAR results, it was amazing because all of a sudden we had control of the space. We could see where the structures were and where they weren’t under those trees,” said Arlene Chase. “We think it’s equivalent to radiocarbon dating. Radiocarbon dating allows us to control time. LiDAR allows us to monitor space in the Maya region.”

Learning about the city of Caracol provides more information about the past: Chases said it can be an inspiration for today’s city planners.

“If you look at how Karakol is built, it’s a wonderfully planned city. I think we could learn something from the plan. It’s a walkable city, a green city. Water reservoirs are placed so people can walk in, there are fields. Next to every house. Plus, everything can almost go to the market,” explained Diane Chase.

The area is not entirely urban: there are also what Diane Chase describes as suburbs or residential areas. Some of these sites were discovered with LiDAR technology. In this dig, Chases is looking for architecture that can tell how many people lived in houses in the area. According to Diane Chase, digging is done by hand, which is the first time these houses have been built.

Almost as impressive as the ruins uncovered is the teamwork between the Chases. They even finish each other’s sentences.

“We work together,” Diane Chase said. “Some say, ‘How do you work with your husband?’ says. or ‘How can you work with your wife?’, without knowing us, of course, and we’re a good team.”

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