Laser equipment provides new three dimension images of Belize's forest floors and Mayan centres enhancing the Belize Institute of Archaeology's research on the ancient Maya. The technology is known as the Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) equipment which was used by researchers of the University of Central Florida. The project was funded by NASA in April 2009 and specifically mapped the entire site of Caracol in the Chiquibul area. The technology is reported to have revealed eleven new causeways, thousands of new structures and agricultural terraces and hidden caves. Doctor John Morris, Director of Research at the Institute of Archaeology said that they granted a permit to the archaeologists conducting the research and says that the results were impressive.

Doctor John Morris; Director of Research, Institute of Archaeology 

"When we matched up the information generated by the LiDAR survey with the ground survey we realized that we could use this type of technology to help us do surveys. Especially in areas that are heavily forested or areas that are very difficult to get to on foot so the value of this kind of survey is really for us to pinpoint the areas where we could essentially see where ancient Maya Monuments and buildings are located. Also to see how the Maya actually transformed the landscape. The LiDAR helps us to see this on a larger scale but essentially we would still have to go on the ground to verify all of that information."

Dr. Morris adds that they are in communication with the researchers who have committed to do other areas of country using the technology.

Doctor John Morris

"One of our long term goals at the Institute of Archaeology is to completely map the entire country, to survey the entire country so that we could make a record of all of the Maya sites and all the ancient sites in Belize. It is a long term project and with the help of this LiDAR survey it should cut down the amount of time we are going to be required to do so. We are on the cutting edge of technology for a small country as ours we do set the standards for archaeological investigations and archaeological investigations in our region. We are considered perhaps as one of the best in this part of the world."

The LiDAR technology was designed by Professor John Weishampel of the University of Central Florida who has for years been studying forests using lasers. This is the first time, however, that the technology is used to record an archaeological ruin under a tropical rainforest.