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It will eventually map more than 5,000 sq miles (14,000 sq km) of Guatemala's lowlands. The Khazars later felt pressed to convert to either Islam or Christianity - they asserted themselves by adopting Judaism, about 1000AD.

He believes the scale and population density has been "grossly underestimated and could in fact be three or four times greater than previously thought". Described as "magic" by some archaeologists, Lidar unveils archaeological finds almost invisible to the naked eye, especially in the tropics.

Contact via the convenient (and virus-free): e-mail form From BBC Headlines datelined 2-2-2018.

Researchers have found more than 60,000 hidden Maya ruins in Guatemala in a major archaeological breakthrough.

"Maybe, eventually, we would have gotten to this hilltop where this fortress is, but I was within about 150 feet of it in 2010 and didn't see anything," Mr Garrison told Live Science.

While Lidar imagery has saved archaeologists years of on-the-ground searching, the BBC was told that it also presents a problem.

Mr Houston told the BBC that after decades of work in the archaeological field, he found the magnitude of the recent survey "breathtaking".

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