Chris Fisher - Modern technology revealing ancient cities and their secrets
Hi. Welcome to Colorado State University's, president's, lecture series community lecture, series I'm Rick Moranis Provost, executive, vice president here, at Colorado State and. President. Frank. Created. This president's. Community lecture series, about. Five years ago five six years ago to offer an expanded. Opportunity, for people in Fort Collins in Northern Colorado, communities. To hear from, some of CSU's, most engaged, and engaging. Scholars, and. We've had some fantastic, conversations. Over the years I've been to many of them myself. In the audience bill Ritter former, governor now. Directs. Our energy. One. Of our energy centers Diana wall just elected to the National canopy, temple, grandin you know Steve with Roe Laurie peek a Jay Menon, is lecture. Brian wilson who directs the energy institute, ami Prieto, working, on battery technology, Robin read Joe bacon our organist, who's. On, the other side of campus at playing. The organ right now tonight and Wayne. McElrath they've all given. One. Of these presidential, community, lecture series I'm just delighted to see the the, room, filled. Tonight unfortunately President. Frank had an unexpected. Conflict, which just, arose very suddenly. Earlier. This week and so he couldn't be here tonight so it. We're, gonna rename it the Provost community, lecture series though. From. Anyway. It's my honor to be here to, host. And introduce, this evening special. Guests, tonight speakers, is dr.. Chris Fisher professor, of anthropology here. At Colorado State and. You. Know I you. Know you take a look at this picture and I've been told that, anthropology. Is a very exciting, thing to, do now, I'm a mathematics, professor so, if you if you like you. Know hacking, through dense. Jungles. Infested with, deadly, snakes and crocodiles, and. Jaguars. And finding, lost civilizations. I mean, if you like that kind of like that Chris is done okay that's fine but you know, for. Me going into my office shutting the door and staring at the equations, on the whiteboard for a couple of hours that's. What's really exciting, so, now. If, but. You know whatever it floats your boat so. Chris. Has been you. Know explores his work explores, the connections between human. Societies, and environments. Through a variety of archaeological.
And Earth science methodologies. Including. Geo archaeology, full-coverage. Surveys. Excavation. Remote, sensing, techniques that, will hear more about tonight, he's been featured in National. Geographic and. The New York Times best-selling lost, city of the monkey god. Book. Written where he's his work has been featured came. Out last year using a radar. System called, lidar I'm sure we'll hear more about it tonight in his research in Mexico and Honduras Chris, was able to Mac map, architectural. Structures, that may never have been discovered otherwise, it's, a pioneering. A really. A fantastic, new technique, he's, found large, and previously, unknown, cities, and uncovered. Artifacts, hidden from sight for, centuries, truly. Amazing, revelations. And. Moreover, what. Makes Chris really. A true CSU, Ram is his willingness to try it a new. Approach to solve these, old problems, of, archaeology. And anthropology Chris, wasn't content to, spend his career working just one site using, old methods he, knew that taking an innovative. Idea could. Pay off when he used lidar. 3d, modeling abilities, to map an area that, yielded just incredible, findings and he knew there was a better way and he, looked he took a calculated, risk to. Go try, it and it worked, and. One last thing that makes us incredibly proud of proud, of Chris he's a first-generation college student, the world as a percussion, performance, major, originally, and then discovered, his, passion for archaeology. And why aren't you on the other side of campus playing with with, Joel Bacon, he's. Held academic, positions, at deira Zona State University, and Kent State University, before joining us here, at Colorado State and we're very lucky to have him please, welcome tonight's speaker, the archaeologist, dr. Chris. Well. Thanks everybody for thank you Rick. And to the president and thanks. Everybody for for, coming out on this beautiful. Evening. I can't believe anybody's here actually, you know outside. For, those of you that are read Doug's book, this, is actually, T three the. City the Jaguar is located, in t1 this is a picture from t3, we did get into t3. It. Took us about I don't, know maybe an hour to go 300, meters in this, vegetation. So. T3 is the is the location of a city that's probably even bigger than the city of the Jaguar but, it's so rugged and so nasty, and so. Impossible, that I'm not convinced. That anybody will ever, investigate. It certainly. Not me and I, also, want to point out that here. At t3 walking, in this very area the Honduran, military. Went. Back several, months after we excavated, in 2016. To, t3 to, try to investigate, it a little further and right, in this same area where I'm walking now a, crocodile. Came. Charging. Out, of this grass, and. Grabbed. A soldier by his arm and apparently. They. What they told me was it was a small, praça dial so, they were able to beat, it off with their the butts of their guns and, the.
Soldier Was okay and they continued, on their way. Now. I just want to make it clear that I, wouldn't have been walking, through here had, I known, that. Potentially. There were crocodiles. In there nobody. Told me that I. Also. Want to mention that we've just started a. New. Center for archaeology, and remote sensing or when the process, is starting it will be housed in the, anthropology. Department. In. The. College of Liberal Arts and so if you're interested please stop, by and we'll. Pull up some really cool stuff for, you on the on, the computer and of. Course I also want to mention, this book for for some of you that, how many people have actually read Doug's book oh wow. A lot of people okay. Well. As you know I mentioned in in Doug's book Lost City the monkey-god a true, story so if you haven't picked it up or haven't seen it I definitely encourage you to do that I think it's a pretty good read. Now. In the 21st century we're supposed to give, these talks as if they're TED Talks and that's what I'm gonna do and following. The TED talk formula, you. Are supposed to begin your talk with a personal, captivating. Story that. Captures, the audience, and, that's. What I'm gonna do. So. I normally, work in Mexico and I work in the lake pots guaro basin which at the time of European contact was. The core of an empire that was much like the Aztec, empire it's. A heavily a pretty truck heavily trafficked area, it's densely, settled today, it's, a major tourist zone working. In the pots guaro Basin you would expect, to find lots, of little sites that nobody recorded, or bothered with but. You wouldn't expect to find any big sites. Using. World, War one technology. Updated. With GPS, units, and using ArcGIS and, other kinds of things we. Were performing, traditional. Archaeological. Survey in 2009. Walking. Across the landscape transects. Of people lines, of people recording. All the sites that we saw. We. Encountered, a very large settlement, much. Larger, than we expected, much larger than was supposed to be there, using. Based. On current models. My. Graduate, students, convinced, me that I needed to find an edge of this, place which we now call on, go MOOC oh so. One, afternoon I grabbed a couple power bars some, water I turned, off my radio so the graduate students wouldn't be able to get in contact with me and I, walked across the landform that this city occupies, it, occupies, kind of a, geologically. A recent, lava, flow, loan they look, known locally, as a mall, pace or a bad lane I walked, for about an hour and a half across this land form I got, to the other side and I was like oh. They. Were building foundation, all the, way across on my little walk across across. The small payees, huh. This. Is a city oh, no. It's a city. So. I me and 'red back and I got back and talked, to the graduate, students and I'm like well it covers, the entire mall police we.
Thought At that point it was about ten square kilometers, we now know it's 26, square, kilometers. And. I was like well this. Is a city and they're, like oh my god it's a city oh that's great and they're like why aren't you excited and, I'm like you guys don't understand. This. Ups the ante, for everything. Before. We were just doing our thing we go spend our summers in Mexico, and survey now. Everybody's. Watching, because, the city isn't supposed, to be there and that's, exactly. What has, happened, after. Surveying, ah no mukou for, a couple, of field seasons, I, realized. That, I, could. Be doing this for the rest of my career I'm. Impatient. So. I walked down the hall to a colleague of mine Steve Lee's who's somewhere, in the audience here, Steve's. A geographer, but he's in the anthropology, department we, allow. Some geographers, to exist. In our anthropology. Department, and. He's. Like have you have you heard of this technique, called lidar and, I'm like no what's that he's like you should try it so. I had a little bit of money left in my NSF grant we got lidar from, the MOOC oh we, tried it we got it back it, was just a cloud of points I'm like Steve what. In the hell am I supposed to do with this stuff what. Do we what is this even that's it we, wasted, our money I'm never, gonna get another NSF, again I'm going to be drummed out of the business we. Worked with the data we taught ourselves how, to use the data we got our first hill shade we, started making these kinds, of animations, and I was blown away and I realized, that, that first lidar scan we now have to Frogger mukou saved. Me well, over a decade, of, traditional. Archaeological. Fieldwork in, 45. Minutes. Flying. 45. Minutes of flying. Completely. Transformed. My project. Completely. Transform, the arc of my career and probably. Ruined, my life no no we probably improve Miley so, this is actually what this is actually one of the central areas for manga mukou you can see that circle and square that's, a very large pyramid, it's about 30 meters on one side all, embedded, within a completely. Human modified, landscape. I estimate. That at Andamooka there, are about. 50,000. Building, foundations, that cover 26, square kilometers, the.
Same Number, of building foundations, on the. Island, of Manhattan, now. Of course, on, Manhattan. There are in excess of 1.6. Million people a maximum. Number of people that occupy donggu, mukou at any one time with. Something, on the order of a hundred thousand. People so. Most of those building, foundations, represent. Single. Dwellings. How normal, houses, they're not set the skyscrapers. That you see in Manhattan, but, nonetheless it's. An incredible, a number, of buildings, so. What, is light detection, so what is lidar what is light detection and ranging it basically. Operates, on the principle of, light. It. Is, like sonar. For, the ground. Using. Some kind of aircraft, could. Be a helicopter, it could be a fixed-wing, aircraft. Increasingly. It's it's becoming, drones, and it will be drones in the future you, have an instrument, on that aircraft. It fires, a great, dense grid, of infrared beams down, to the Earth's surface that. Grid. Of beams is so dense that no matter what the canopy, in the, canopy, in Honduras, that we're about to talk about here in one second, is arguably. The densest, vegetation. That you get in the world it's as dense as the Amazon, 50, meter canopy, no, matter how dense that, vegetation. Is some. Of those beams will, penetrate down, to the Earth's surface when. They strike an object on the earth it could be the Earth's surface could, be a bird. To be a leaf be, the top of a tree it. Could be the back of an archaeologist, walking, through the forest, returns. To a sensor, on the aircraft, it gives you a measure of distance put. All that together it creates, a cloud of points it's, not a photograph, it's, a. Three-dimensional. Object. By. Digitally. Filtering, a way that, vegetation. We. Can see things on the Earth's surface the, really high-resolution. In. A Tonga. Mukou we can see things that are about the size of an ordinary construction. Brick. In. Honduras, that because. The vegetation. Is more, dense that the resolution is not quite, that high these. Light our records are the, ultimate, conservation. Records, they record the Earth's surface and everything, on the, Earth's surface in a high resolution, all. Of that those, data that I work so hard to digitally. Remove are the, careers of many other scientists, that study, tree composition. Forest composition, tree density. Hydrology. Tap, ha a, topology. The geology. Etc. In that, sense these these so these lidar records, these conservation, records. Are, critical. To, help us understand. The impacts of global warming and. That's. Where that's really where. This the stories start this. Is what I would call the conundrum, of the 21st, century, we. Have so much left to discover but never before is our, cultural, has our cultural and ecological patrimony. Been. So, threatened, we're, experiencing. Massive Earth, System change due. To urbanization, global. Warming, mining. Deforestation. Migration. Etc. We. Are losing a battle that we're ill-equipped to fight especially. Archaeologists. I mean let's face it, archaeologists. Are not fighters were, lovers. Lidar. And, the tools that will follow are, just, one. Of many things that will allow us to document, our disappearing. World for posterity. In, this. Sense archaeology. Has finally, reached its Age of Discovery our. Work, at onda mukou got. A lot of press and, it came to the attention of, a, couple of filmmakers, Steve. Elkins and Bill Benenson and Tom Weinberg. They. Had just flown lidar for three river valleys, in northeastern, Honduras, they. Were looking for a legendary, lost city that didn't exist because it's. Legendary. But. They did document. Some significant. Archaeology. Human. Features were visible, in the data but. They were having trouble interpreting, it they'd never interpreted archaeological. Lighter before and frankly, there. Really aren't that many people that are still interpreting, archaeological. Lighter I, talked. To Steve Elkins several times on the phone Steve, came to the CSU campus, showed. Steve, Leeza and I the data, I said. You know obviously. You've got these features, here but it's all embedded within a human, modified, landscape, there was a lot. More things that were visible to Steve and I because we had you know been. Working with, donggu mukou data for so long Steve, Elkins said well, why don't you guys you know join the project, like. I don't know I'm really busy and, I have a family, you. Know I live in Colorado there's, like, not lots of nice stuff going on and, okay. I'll do it. Honduras. Is a really dangerous place. It's. The original Banana, Republic it's. Always been contested. It's, always been on the edge of collapse since, the first Spaniards, arrived in the, 1520's.
The, Country's rugged, much of its inaccessible. And it's, always been a pirate haven. For pirates. Smugglers. Malcontents. Possibly. Why I did, so well there I guess. It's. The center of narco trafficking, in Central America there's. A significant. Political unrest. We. Just had a. Democratically. Sanctioned, coup exactly. Know how to phrase what just happened there in Honduras last year it, has the highest murder rate in the world high poverty, migration, etc, there are constant, attempts. On the lives of government, officials is. There anybody from risk risk management, in the room oh. No. Well. I'm. Not gonna say what makes me honestly. The. Most remote, place, in Central America is the Mosquitia, tropical, forest of zone, of northeastern, Honduras and Nicaragua. Mosquitia. Refers, to the Musketeers, of the 19th century there, are plenty of mosquitoes, there, but. That's not what it's named after and I should also point out that having, grown up in northern Minnesota, I can. Tell you that the mosquitoes there are much worse than they were in. The Mosquitia, rainforest. Which. Well. Okay. Largest. Remaining contiguous. Zone of old-growth tropical, forests left in Central America it's, often called the little Amazon the, jewel of Honduras. Many. Unknown, species, of plants. And animals it's. Critically. Important, ecologically. And it pains me to say it but, the ecology, is potentially. More important, than the archaeology and in, that sense we. Used. Archaeology. As bait, to. Help save a rainforest. The. Mosquitia, has many, international. Protections. To un biosphere. Etc, there's, zero resources to be able and to implement, any of that sort of stuff. It. Is, experiencing. Incredible. Deforestation. Most. Of it for cattle, raising they. Clear places, they run beef on them for a few years and. And they just leave it they just let it go. Most, of that beef is, sold. The United States for, fast food there, were buyers there from McDonald's, Burger, King Taco. Bell. This. Image is not very clear but if you look up at the top of the screen you can see smoke, that. Is the nearest deforestation. We've just taken off in a helicopter from the city of the Jaguar that, is that's, how close the deforestation, is to. T1 to the t1 valley to the city of the Jerry. This. Is deforestation. From. Again, from the helicopter. This. Is very recent deforestation. You. Can see how steep, the topography. Is how devastating. Removing that vegetation, is when. You fly over these, things it's so, sad it really is like they just took a giant slice. Out. Of the side of the forest you can just look in to, that forest, you. Can tree force these areas. When. Yuri, force them they turn into something, else. Once. You remove this this tropical forest, it's gone forever. There's. No going back. Due. To the ruggedness of the area we don't really know about the a lot about the the prehistory. Of the zone it, enters, a debate. Generally. Regarding, how heavily occupied. Tropical. Regions, such as Amazonia. Actually, were we. Now know that there were millions and, millions, and millions of people in these areas at. The time of European contact and, I'm one of a handful, of people that believes that, most of the tropical, forests at areas of the Americas are really nothing, more than abandoned. Gardens and. There's. No reason to assume the Mosquitia, is any different, and we can actually demonstrate that. There. Is a long history of, adventuring. In the area it was supposed, to be the location of a legendary, city. Called Ciudad, Blanca or later, conflated, with lost, the monkey-god, much, of that is a. Complete. Scam. As was demonstrated, a fraud, as was demonstrated in Doug's book, I, the. Adventure enough I'm a scientist, I'm an archaeologist, the, adventuring, stuff frankly, bores me to tears, but. If people are interested, I have a couple slides that, I can show you at the in the discussion, period. The. Lidar data, for. The Mosquitia, clearly. Shows two, cities, embedded. Within a completely. Human. Modified, landscape. One. Of those cities is about 6 square kilometers, that's t3 one, of those cities is about 5 square kilometers, that's t1 the city of the Jaguar City. The Jaguar, is oriented. Around 10 very, large plazas. With, earthen, mounds, around them and then hundreds, of. Houses. And terraces. And other features around. Those things. Our. Initial. Findings were. Released to, the media at the request of the Honduran government. Honduras. Is desperate, for for, positive.
News. It. Went, around the internet I think about 20, times. We, got incredible. Press, and attention, for it. There. Was an article in The New Yorker. There. Were articles in the New York Times etc. There. Was also significant. Backlash, and criticism, people. Said that it wasn't possible to, see what we were seeing that we were just making it up lidar. Can't, penetrate a canopy. That that is that, is that dense that. What we were actually seeing were interpreting, as human. Generated, features were geological. Features, these. Sorts of occupations. Weren't possible in the tropical. Rainforest. That. I. Was really just a treasure hunter, which. Is possibly, the most. Heinous. Insult. That you can level at an academic. Archeologist. And. Honestly. If, I'm a treasure hunter I'm. Like the worst treasure hunter ever. Just. Come look at my yard sometime. So. It. Was decided that we needed to fill verify the results. Sponsored. By Bill Benenson in 2015. We actually. Went. To one. Of those places t1, which we now call the city of the Jaguar, was. A logistical, nightmare, it. Was accessible, only by helicopter. And, we had to bring any helicopter, from San Diego actually. We. Didn't even know if we're gonna be able to land the helicopter so, I was trained to rappel out of a helicopter. Thank, God it what I didn't have to do that. Incredibly. Dangerous environment. We. Used an old CIA base airbase called el agua ka to set. Forward operating base to get us into the jungle. And. When. We got there it was truly incredible. And. I'm an attorney service. There. Was absolutely, no evidence or, sign of humans it's the only place I've ever been globally, where there was no plastic. Animals. Had no experience, with humans. We. Saw red. Rocket, deer. Monkeys. Beards. Tape ears bell birds, evidence. Of big, cats, Jaguars. Tape. Ears which I now and and peccaries, which. I now know where white our white lipped peccaries, but at the time I wouldn't have known the difference between, a white. Lift or red lip the black lips peccary, but. Their white lipped peccaries, which apparently are incredibly, rare and lots. Of incredible snakes. On. The field we saw exactly. What we saw in the lidar and more was, a one-to-one, correlation, between what we were interpreting, his human features what, we were actually seeing plus a lot of other things that weren't. Visible in the lidar data because of the resolution. At. The center of the city was. A cache of objects, 42. Objects that you could see on the surface we. Now know that there are a lot of more objects, there and, Here. I am yelling at everybody not to touch anything. My. One moment, where I'm a martyr for science I guess. There. Were 42 objects, on the surface they were ground stone objects, probably, left, there as. A. Offering. To ritually, close the city they'd lay in there for centuries. Possibly. Since, the city was abandoned, we think sometime, in the 1530s. They. Are seats. Of power, arranged. Around powerful. Objects. Again. Kind of a ritual closure, or a ritual ceremony, when, the city was abandoned. Our. Results, again were. Released. To the media, it. Was kind of a and, they went around the internet another 20 times, along. With the backlash, there was a article. In National. Geographic magazine. Detailing. The. The discovery, many. Other articles, video. An, explorer episode, on National Geographic, now. Based on this work there's a whole bunch of other crazy there's a. Boutique. Chocolate, bar there's. A video game two. Best-selling, books, a, documentary. An, explorer, episode. And. A whole bunch of other crazy stuff all from this, this. One this, one, expedition.
As. Part of the National, Geographic article. We, got the full treatment which included, a reconstruction, and before. This I'd never really thought about these reconstructions or how they were done I thought oh. They. Give the artist a bottle of wine and he goes to his DC, loft for the evening and then, he comes back with a hangover and he's got the reconstruction. That's. Not how it works we, went back and forth with these folks for months and months and this, is the only reconstruction. I know of, that, is based, entirely, on liner, and here. It is this is actually a reconstruction, of the center of the. City of the Jaguar and in, the process, of doing a reconstruction, you immediately, see things that are wrong that's, the power of these reconstructions. Is that allows you to understand, what you know and, what, you don't know and, that's. Exactly what this. Exercise taught me at least a. Bigger. Issue was what. Do we do about the objects, they, were in, danger. Of being. Looted. And. We. Knew that we had a moral and ethical. Responsibility. To, go back and make sure that those objects, that were most in danger of being looted were. Shepherded, to safety, and. That. The. Rest of the deposit, was, stabilized. And protected, and that this. Was done in a, scientific. Manner. The. Hondurans, wanted. To remove some of the objects, for safekeeping, immediately, and, there. Was a big. Debate about that. Possibility. And finally, the archeology, other archaeologists, the, Honduran archaeologists, and myself said, that, you will not remove these objects, you know they won't be removed over sort. Of our dead. Bodies. Which. Was, not. Unlikely, given, the, sari, risk, management into them so. Over. A six-month, period in, 2015. I put together almost, half a million dollars, in National. Geographic and, Honduran, support, along with. Significant. Honduran, support, from the Honduran, military, to. Go back and. Continue. Our work at the city. Of the Jaguar focused, on protecting. The, the objects from the cache. In. The, meantime the. Honduran, president, who was deeply. Involved. In, the excavation. And the work and. Actually the. President. Has visited the site I think five, times now is six times. Left. A group, of soldiers. At the site to guard, the objects. So. Our goals for 26. 2016, were very simple not, to excavate, all of the materials, from the cache but, just remove those objects, most in danger and stabilized. The rest of the cache. Unfortunately. We were too late. In. That six-month, period, some. Of the objects were removed they. Were brought back and the, cache was disturbed, a lot of the cache was disturbed. This. Had to have been done by the Honduran, military. Possibly. To embarrass, the president we're not entirely sure we're. Not entirely sure what happened. Possibly. I don't want to know, because. We did find, when we excavated, the cache, a lot, of shell casings, and other recent stuff. That indicated. That there might have been actually. Some conflict, up, at the cache location. But in 2016, we returned, to.
The. Cache location, we. Used Honduran, helicopters. Which was done at the request of the Honduran government. They. Were from, Vietnam, they were used in Vietnam they. Were low slow and dangerous and as. Is mentioned in Doug's book a, door, flew off one of the helicopters in flight on. One, day on one of the flights back, sorry. So I probably shouldn't tell you that. We. Brought along here brought along a team of ex students, and, SAS. Personnel. To help run the camp and protect everyone. It, was absolutely, gistic, all nightmare the, field, laboratory was separated, from the excavation. All, of, the, material, everybody and all of the, logistical. Equipment, had to be brought in by helicopter, everything. Had to come out by helicopter, including. The artifacts. So. It was really. Really I, actually. Didn't, spend much time excavating. Most. Of my time was spent on the satellite, phone, arguing. With the Hondurans, about various, stuff, and. Trying to make sure we had water and food and the things that we needed and then, figuring out how to get the artifacts back so. I'm about to show you just a snippet of a National, Geographic did, film while we were in there, this. Is kind of a lost footage I'll, show you just to snip it from the 2016. Excavation. So. From the cache location, we were actually able to remove about 400, stone ceramic, and other objects. Systematically. They're. All or there's. A spatial, organizations, of the cache they. Were all organized, around critical. Central, objects. It was. Everything. Was documented. By the president's. Office by. Honduran, military by, ourselves, it was like doing, archaeology. In, a in sort of a fishbowl. It. Was also a bit of a logistical nightmare as. I mentioned before everything, had to be hauled in and out including. Tents, etc all, of our food and gear, and, if you're wondering, how. Many hundred soldiers it takes to set up a giant REI tent it's like eight plus. Two pilots, to tell them what they're doing wrong. One. Of the big tasks, that I faced was how to get the objects, down off of this big hill that they were on down. Across the river and into the helicopter and that, fall I had just prepared, this lecture, from my archaeology. Of dethklok, archeology. Of death class. Which. I taught that spring, and I. Dental extra about Howard. Carter and King Tut's tomb and, I had remembered seeing these. Devices. That he used these carriers, that he had made this is actually one of the wheels, from the from the chariot in Tutankhamun's. Tomb these. Bearer. Things that he had made and so, I had. The. Soldiers make a bunch of them and that's actually how we got the, artifacts, down off of the hill we used these Rubbermaid, action. Packers I tried, to get them to spray-paint, them gold so they look like the Ark of the Covenant from, first, Indiana Jones, that. Part translation, didn't a. Translation. Didn't get there and then everything. Was actually, flowing out I have. One last little video here that shows, the. Lab, and a lot of the artifacts. We. Curated, everything, washed, it prepped it. Stabilized. It. Basically. Set it up as if it was a museum and they've now turned this area into, a museum fully. Documented, and conserved, everything, from the cache, and. Then everything. Was formally turned over to the Honduran. Government and. It's, all right, now it's all in under the. Protection. Of the president's, office and, of. The military, in a special, museum facility, that. They've. Actually. Constructed. At. At. El agua cotta the, ex-cia. Airbase, is, that a tornado. And. Here you can actually see one of the presidential, visits, to come and actually. See. The, see. The objects. President, visited, the site four or five times when I was there several, other times that's the president, that's it exiting, that his, aircraft, the.
President Is very fond, of these Colombia fishing shirts he. Wears them everywhere, and that means, every, every, politician in, Honduras, also. Wears a Colombia fishing shirt so. Anytime you see somebody, with a Colombia fishing shirt you know that they're some. Sort of hunter. And emulating. Emulating. The President, and there's some sort of Honduran, person. Why. Was the city abandoned, probably, due to European, introduce disease we, now know that nine out of every ten people in, the Americas, indigenous, folks in the Americas, perish. From European introduced disease in. The first fifty years or so of conquest. This. Is an event that we don't even have an analogy, for. It's. So much severe say for, example the Black Death of Europe so, for, it to, get it for you know the, proper analogy for this event you really we have to it's a Stephen King the stand event you, have to turn to science fiction you know, I'm supposedly, I'm an expert I don't consider myself to be an expert in anything but I can't, wrap my head around the severity of this of. This, event was so fundamental. To what. Happened in the Americas. We. Also conserve, the site covered. It with. Gravel. And stone, to. Preserve it. The. President. Implemented. All sorts, of protections based. On our work for. The for. The Mosquitia, rainforest. He's. Also set. Up a corps of soldiers. They're, known as the Jaguar soldiers. To. Protect. The. Forests, they've. Implemented, reforestation, programs. And, they've. Also implemented. Programs that are aimed at halting deforestation. So. In a very real sense. Archaeology. Actually. Helped, save. A rainforest. We. Don't know how for how long. But. At least it you know worked for a little while. And. Here. Here's. Several. Times I had to meet the President and go and. To. Events at the National Palace, one. Of these events, was in conjunction with the October. 2015. National, Geographic article. I didn't, want to go empty-handed. So. You, know we figured out what we could so I got, a ram statue. And. The. Anthropology, department bio, Ram statue and, I. Had the the front of it engraved and they're like what do you know usually we put stuff on here and I'm. Like well put. The president's, name and then. Well, usually it's an award for something I'm like okay well, it's. The annual. Colorado. State University, latin-american conservation, work. Which, I just made up to put to put on this have something you put on the plaque so. They. Put that on the plaque and I went and I you know I picked it up down at the trophy shop downtown and I, looked at it and I, everything was planned perfectly, I just, enough time to get to dia and. Get on my flight and go to Honduras and. Put this thing in my luggage write my check so, I, look. At the plaque and they've misspelled, the president's, name. Like. Oh my god luckily. They were able to fix it right then but. You know screwed. Up so I had to carry this on the flight so. TSA made me take the bottom of the trophy apart because they wanted to make sure it wasn't packed with explosives. So. This. This photo appears in source and that's all great and then it somebody, read, the plaque on there and I got a couple people asking, me about what the nomination, process was, for. The it's for the CSU cuz. People. I continue, to go to the, people have continued, to go to the t1 location, and this, is just, hot off the presses is just out in The New Yorker Doug Preston wrote another article. Benenson. Actually. Sponsored, paid, for Conservation, International to, go in and do, a rapid, ecological. Assessment, at. The location, and. We. Were criticized, by, a lot of ecologists, for saying that we, saw Jaguars, in there that. We saw tape years that peccaries, were running around under. Our hammocks. You. Know that we saw all this amazing wildlife that, that, the monkeys were so fearless and they looked so different from the.
Other Monkeys that I was kind of familiar with seeing I mean. I mean I'm an anthropologist, I have had to look at monkeys a few, times in my career. And. Etc, they said that places like that just don't exist they, don't exist in Honduras, we were making stuff up we, weren't seeing what we were actually seeing, well. Conservation. International. Called. It the most pristine. Untouched place. That they there been in the, Americas so far. Those. Are from game cameras. This. Is the area that we would walk across from, our camp to go up to the site. Pumas. Jaguars. Other, cats. Huge. Herds of white lipped peccaries, they said it was incredible, species that they, thought were weren't present in Central America anymore, the. Number, of species, endangered species, that were there were incredible, the. Presence, of all the cats really indicates. That it's an untouched, place. The. Spider. Monkeys, have a different color rate spider, monkeys and the howler monkeys have, a different, coloration, and. Patterning. On them that may indicate that they're in new subspecies. Some. Of the Honduran ecologist, think they might be a new species and. One. Unknown, large, species of mammal. We. Don't, know is something about like a like, a something like a raccoon. Not. A monkey, that'd be awesome but so what's. Next well, my. Work is continuing at Mexico, but we're also promoting. Big. Scans, in the Americas, in. Threatened. Areas one. Of the places where I can't tell you where it is but, we're looking for private, money right now to do a big scan we have permission to do a big scan in South. America, hopefully. This summer, so, we're gonna continue our scanning, work and scan. Scan, scan as, much, as we possibly can thank you very much for sitting through. We. Retire to the chairs I think, so yeah. Well. We have some time for some questions, from. The audience so there's a couple of folks, with microphones. To. Come around and. Anybody. Have a question, for. Dr.. Fisher about here first. I'm. Curious what kind of temperatures, were you in in those jungles. So. It's you know it's really strange when you're you're, kind of wet all the time and. It's. Fairly hot but, and. I have to preface this by saying I'm cold all the time. Like. Today, I could have been wearing a sweater outside, so. Most. Of the time and you're you're not in the direct sunlight so. You know like for example when it rains you hear it raining, at the top of the tree and then like 30 minutes it actually comes down and hits you I. Mean, it's really pretty amazing and actually in some instances, it, would rain it would, rain and we would be able to move out you take. Our time and leisurely. Move out into an open area and totally, avoid the rain so. That's how that's how that's how much canopy, is over the top of you so I was cold all the time I wore like a fleece like most. Of the time unless. You walk, out into the Sun and then you're like you know very hot. So. The temperature is probably in the high 80s Fahrenheit. But. You're you're wet and you're kind of cold all the time. At. Least I was. So. I was actually in your spring 2016.
Archaeology, Of death class, and. I remember first, two weeks of class you're like hey we don't have class because I'm stuck in the jungle uh-huh. Do you have any plans to go back to Honduras like, in the near future. So. Thank, you for tolerating that. So. Not. At not to Honduras it's just simply too dangerous the, logistical. Stuff is too dangerous the risk, of getting a tropical disease is too dangerous. Politically. The country's not, stable, enough but. We will, continue to work in Mexico, and, hopefully, some other places in in the in the Americas, so, the fieldwork continues. You. Commented. That the the, landscape is almost entirely, human, modified, which. Implies that the old-growth forest, is really not well growth forest it's just 500, years old or something like that, is. There any data to indicate what's the what the the the ecology. Looked like before. The Indians if I can use that term occupy, the place and turn it into a megalopolis. Well. We. Don't know so, that's. A really interesting question, and I. Also. Want, to be very careful too, I mean. I think all of these tropical areas, are really abandoned, Gardens, but. I don't think that devalues. That. You know these places right. These are as, old-growth and its pristine as any place that you have in the Americas right so. What was the landscape like before people actually got there I. Mean. We have some idea about that certainly the semi-tropical, but. It was under a very different climatic and so and of course we don't know when people got there. Right. Sometime. Before ten probably sometime for twelve thousand years ago but, that's a that that date is a moving target as many of you know who follow archaeology, because. That date for the initial, people you know the Americas keeps getting pushed, back so. When. People did arrive in in the Amazon. And a lot, of us think that it was or Central. America and in the Amazon as well and a lot of us believe that that was fairly early. They. Were occupying, a landscape, that existed. In a different climatic regime. So. It's entirely possible in, the modern sort, of last ten thousand years or so the. Holocene, or some people now call this the Anthropocene, that. That those, landscapes. Co-evolved. With people, and, that. Was the normal condition, for those landscapes. There's. A couple of questions over here. Could. You talk a little bit about the issue. With diseases tropical. Diseases and parasites that, you were infected with and encountered down there, that's. Not too difficult in art you know. So. I was fortunate I was unfortunate. Enough to. As. Many of us did contract a parasite, called leishmaniasis. Which. Is has a transmission, vector that's very similar to malaria so. It's, a protozoa. That spends. Most most, of its time in, small. Mammals, or the gut of a sandfly Sam, flies about half the size of a mosquito it's like a no seeum. The. Sand fly the, protozoa usually. The, normal, reservoir, for it is small, mammals, it. Gets transferred, to the gut of the sand fly when the sand fly bites takes.
A Blood meal from the mammal. That's. Where the protozoa. Has. The best time of its life in this. In the gut of the sand fly it. It, fornicates. There that's where it mutates it does all that stuff and then. It's transferred, back into the, mammal, the next time that sand fly bites bites. The mammal or whatever, we. Happen to get in the way of that process, so. Leishmaniasis. Expresses. Itself. In. In, mammals. As a. Skin. Eating lesion, so. It's a flesh-eating parasite. So. I contracted leishmaniasis, I, actually had a bug, bite that wouldn't he. Basically. On, the bottom of my foot probably, from sleeping, and having, getting sand flies in my hammock. Or whatever. The. Treatment. Is fairly, heinous, you get you, have to be treated at the NIH, it's the only place where you can really get effectively. Treated they're the only ones so far that really, know a lot about leishmaniasis. And, they're. Interested, in leishmaniasis, because, with global warming it's, moving, northward so. A less virulent, version. Of leishmaniasis than, the kind that we got is, actually, already in Texas Oklahoma probably. New Mexico Arizona, and. It's moving north. So. The United. Exactly. So, the NIH, so. The NIH is interested. In figuring out, how. To treat it, the treatment, is is fairly. Heinous, you get as many injections as you can stand of a, fat lipid, bonded, with a, a. Antifungal. Drug it's not a fungus but it's it's. Effective, against it, until. You get very sick usually. When you get your first injection your body kind of freaks out, because. It doesn't know what what this is that you're putting in it and usually. Get a pain somewhere, I experienced. An incredibly, intense pain, in my, lower back it, slowly migrated. Up to the middle of my back was, the most intensive. Muscle. Contraction. Thing that, I'd ever felt and, it. Took him about ten minutes before they could get a little narcotic, in my IV and then, it kind of went away I. Have. It on, the, authority, of the NIH doctors, that, what I experienced. Was. The equivalent of one. Quarter of a, birth contraction. So. I. Can. Say with, the authority, of the NIH doctors, that, I'm one of the only males that, knows what it's like to give birth and. It, sucks. So. I was curious, in the reconstruction it looked like some, terrorist areas for agriculture.
So I'm wonder if anyone's doing any modeling and if you could like reconstruct, what the population, was based on the amount of area that was under, agriculture, like fields. And things like that yeah, so and that's a great question most of those terraces, that, were in the immediate reconstruction area, were actually habitation, terraces, not, that they didn't have something. That would be the equivalent of like a pretty. Archaeologically. Would call them Gardens I think. In a modern terminology, one might call them like a farm at or something I mean it's a little more extensive, than a garden I've. Been very careful and it is possible, there is a methodology, to. Reconstruct. Population. Archaeologists, do that I've. Been very careful not, to do that for. The city of the Jaguar, because. We don't we know so little about that area we know so little about the prehistory that. Any number that I throw out is just going to be fairly, erroneous. But. I think probably a fair, number would be something between ten. And fifteen thousand people I did. Just throw out a number. I. Can. Assess, you, here. Here. Exploration. Was very cursory. But. Were, you able to. Ascertain. In any way what. The diet of these, inhabitants. Was. And. Possibly. Anything, about, the. Life of the, people in general. Yeah. So these these people probably were. What. We would archaeologically, would so, they were eating. Probably. Some maize but not a lot of maize it's not a great maize growing area but. It's really, really good for growing is. Cacao. Or chocolate. In. Cacao, this is one of the premier. Cacao. Growing areas even today and I. Was because. I did, mention the chocolate bars its. Casanova. Chocolates, in Florida. They, actually, are producing, boutique. Chocolate, bar made. From. Sustainably. Grown, cacao. Made. By indigenous, producers. In that from that region and. It's called the lost city chocolate, bar and. They're. Really good, like. You should definitely, get them but probably mostly. What they were eating was, was, probably manioc, and other, kind of forest crops like that, tried. Basically a tropical kind of diet they, archaeologically. Would characterize, these folks as a middle-range society, some, people would say a chiefdom society.
So, They probably had a number of positions that were ranked, power, was potentially, not inherited. But. That's just a guess because we we don't really know a lot about that about, that region. I have. A couple questions the, first you, were saying that, land. Was being deforested, for. Cattle, and then, you showed a picture of a very steep mountainside. That had be been. Deforested, why. Would a steep, mountainside, be de forested, second. Question would be. The. Ancient. Communities. Of, Chaco Canyon are. Interconnected. By an intricate trail, system. Did. You discover any trail system, and would y dar be able, to discern. A trail, system. Yes. Those are both good those are both great questions I had, that same I had that same question this is so steeply forested, how could you run cattle up here what. You know why why, would they do this but. That's what they're doing, there, so people are so land poor. And. That. A lot of the the incidentally. And something I didn't mention is that, a lot of the the cattle, raising is being, financed, by narco. Traffic, on tastes so. Cattle. Are like a really. Excellent. Way to in. Case you're wondering cattle. Are a really excellent way to launder money and, that's. Exactly, what they're doing and, they, hire folks, that have no other means, of income to. Go out and DeForest these patches and bring, you know give them cattle, to raise and they bring the cattle back. And. Then. The second, question was forgotten, the second question. Trails. Yeah there, so there are roadways, that are noted, for the area and in, t3 we do think that we see roadways. They're probably stone roadways. And. There's a reflectance, that you get with the lidar we can measure reflectance. A little bit intensity, and they, have a very different intensity, so we do think that there they, were stone roadways, but. We didn't see any of that sort of stuff around. T1. But. They're definitely noted, for the area and you know today you go to this place you can be more disconnected. From the 21st, century it's awesome there's, no internet. There's no cellphone there's no power I mean nothing right but you. Know in, 1500. These, people were completely, connected.
To Everybody. And. That would have been through a road, system. Several. Times in the presentation you talked about the incidence, of the disease down, there and how dangerous it was how. Did the indigenous. People survive that in a in a society, in, maintain, a reasonable. Economy, so most so. They to the the, the deadliest, thing that we faced was was, the leishmaniasis, the. Leash the, variety of leishmaniasis that, we have is actually. A hybrid. Between a Mexican, variety, in a, Panamanian variety. Pre. Historically, leishmaniasis. Was, present, in the Americas. There, are even ceramics. From South America, and from the Amazon, that. Show and the, the kind of leishmaniasis that we have is, mucosal. So, it actually is and I somewhere I had a slide. Grab it probably took it out but it. Is a face, eating, flesh-eating. A, face, eating, of. Protozoa. So if it goes untreated it. Will eat the soft parts you like your nose if there are ceramics, that show, people without with. That, parts of their face from leishmaniasis. It's. Generally, not as severe, though is the kind that we have and the. Incidence, of infection, is much. Lower like maybe in the 10% kind of range and it, generally, results. In some. Kind of scar it. Heals itself after about a year so. The. Kind that we got is a mutation. Between. The Mexican variety. In the Panamanian. Variety it's actually a new species it's. Incredibly. Virulent. Has. Like a 50%. Infection, rate based. On the numbers of people that went into that place. And. It's. Really really, aggressive which, is why the NIH, kind. Of strongly. Suggested, that we get treated like immediately, right. Since. It is a new species. It's unnamed, so. I tried. To convince, the, NIH, folks that. It should be called, leishmaniasis. Fisher, ances. My. Reasoning. Was, that if I was ever at a dinner party or some place and I was stuck for conversation. I could, just turn to the person next to me and say well I have. A flesh-eating, protozoa, named after you. But. I don't think they're gonna go for it if it gets a species, name it's going to be Hondurans, us but. That that that variety, of leishmaniasis was not present. When. Prehistoric, peoples were there and it wasn't the kinds that were there weren't as virulent. Also. The. Normal reservoir, for, that leishmaniasis, is small mammals. We. Don't know what, what the environment, light was like or what species what the resident what that reservoir, was actually like in, the prehistoric period I think it was much smaller so, I think the prevalence, of that of the leishmaniasis was much lower.
Yes. Lidar. Is, a is. A pretty, good predictive tool to use with new technology. Where. Do you see light are going, do. You see it evolving into something different, or what would you add to it to make it more productive, well. Lighter the, what's. What's the trajectory. Of technological, development, for lidar now is smaller, instrumentation. Faster. Processing, and. Both. Of those things are resulting, in many different kinds of lidar so. You can get lot of entually, you. Know we'll be able to put lidar on drones and get the, kind of resolution we need to do this kind of the work that we're needing to do and the drones will have the kind of. Range. That we need it. Once. We get lidar with, the high enough resolution onto, a satellite. That's. Going to be a huge game-changer but, of course other kinds, of light are terrestrial base lidar and other things are. Being used all the time there's apps you can get for your phone now. And. The, new 10. Operating, system has a kind of we. Photogrammetry. Lidar, s king that allows you to measure I haven't actually seen it you know how it works and, of course. Self-driving. Cars, use, lidar that's, how that that's what they're using to map, the, area, in front of them so long so lidar is really. Generally. Speaking is fairly. Transformative. I, usually, say lidar. And, the technologies, that follow right to. Kind, of save myself from. So. I have a two-part, question for. You actually the. First is I was recently in the bacalao area of southern, Yucatan, and was. Astounded. Because I would have entire afternoon, by, myself, in some of the cities there and, so the first question is do you have any plans to turn, to that area and secondly. Do you ever take say. Artists. Or writers along, with you to, round out the process. We're, not even round out but to add to it so. I can't actually see where you are if you could raise your hand there. Okay thank you hi. It's. Weird I can see I don't know where the I, I. Don't work in I haven't worked really into Maya region and I do, people are using lidar in, the Maya region, there. Are a lot of Maya archaeologists. So. I, don't I don't. Want to compete with them or so. I probably won't work in the lowlands at all, sometimes. We do I took Doug Preston, into the field so. Doug Preston's our writer. As. I'm, told. But. I haven't taken to some projects, do take artists, we, haven't taken, an artist per se but now. I wouldn't discount the fact we, we, would the, place that would really be useful for us to have an artist would be in Mexico only, do excavation. Actually. I have two questions. Although the artifacts, that you brought back to. To. Honduras that left that you left there what, was the most significant. Learning. You, received. From studying. Those, artifacts. Taken. With, my questions now would you just answer that one and. My second question was does lidar work over the ocean are they using that in the oceans as well so. It's, the last one first there is a shallow water kind of lighter that can be used, and. It. Should be being for. Archaeologists, should be for for. It. Has a lot of potential abused for like shallow, water shipwrecks, and stuff like that and. Ecologists, are actually using it to study like. Underwater. Shallow, underwater, grasses and, things like that. It's. Kind of in a. Prototype. Sort of phase the issue is any particulate, matter in the water will also send back a signal so, the water has to be really really clear but you, know as that instrument. Becomes more sophisticated it, will. The. Main thing we learned about the. Artifacts, that. We, were able to excavate, was. Their spatial, arrangement, they, were they were all arranged, around, artifacts. Of three different kinds of motifs, there were vultures. Which. Are the largest, kind, of power raptor. Bird and in this area and they're. Brilliantly, colored they're amazing, looking animals. And. Throughout. South America and Central America and even into the Maya reach and there's a lot of vulture, iconography, where. Jaguar. Which. Is like you, know if. You, thought of werewolf, wasn't terrifying enough. There's. The where where Jaguar. And. Where Jaguar, again is, a common, a is a common. Motif, that occurs in that same sort of area these are all big spirit. And things, and. Then the third figure is a little debated. Some. People say that it's a trickster monkey, monkey, figure, I actually. Think that it's it, represents, a dead ancestor, or a dead person, so, you're tying yourself to that sort. Of Rome and those, objects, were at the center of the cache and then, those seats of power which, some people call metate, z-- but, it looked like bun Tata is like mono metate, from like, say Mexico, but they're not actually, Matata. Is they're actually seats and, one. Way that you show your elite 'no sin the, americas is by not sitting on the ground common, people sit on the ground so.
Elites Sit on stools, and. Those stools are arranged. Around. Those central, objects, as if. That is. You. Know like the last. Council. Meeting or the last meeting, at that place, and. Some of those objects are ritually, broken. So. They, actually it's like breaking the spirit, d, sanctifying. The city, probably. When it was abandoned I think. We're coming to the end of our time maybe one more question. You've. Mentioned a few times that you're in the minority and thinking that these were abandoned, Gardens what's. Their prevailing, that. I'm. Sorry I couldn't understand you. Mentioned a few times that you're in the minority and thinking that the. Abandoned. Gardens so. What is the prevailing, thing there's a there's an old trope, in anthropology, it. Goes back to like the 1920s even. That in, a tropical, environment you couldn't support a true. Civilization. Because. All of the energy is, held it all the energy in that system, is, held in the biomass, the. Soils are tropical soils are typically very thin. So. They can't really support the, idea thinking was that they can't support like a large, population right. Once, you remove the vegetation once. You remove the biomass, you've. Taken, all the energy out of the system so. There, are a lot of people that believed and till fairly recently actually that, you couldn't have a truce. Is a ssin you, couldn't in in in tropical environments, which. Of course we, now know is completely absurd, right, um Angkor, Wat the, Maya, I mean what's happening in the Amazon, even. The most skeety of work. So. If you have those large populations. How. Do you support them and that, has there's a whole line. Of inquiry, in archeology, of. People that actually look, for those. Ancient, agricultural. Features and those. Managed. Engineered. Landscapes. That those things are embedded, in and earlier. In my, career the, pre, lidar, phase. Of my career which. Sounds. Silly but I there is a pre lidar face. When. I did my dissertation, that. Was all focused on a lot of that human environment, kind, of connection, so, there's a there's, a school of people that is growing that. Is, suggesting. That all of the Americas, was completely, engineered like. That and. Increasingly. Any, place people look or any place that people. Perceive you know when they pursue that line of inquiry. They, find these incredible. Engineered. Environments. Amazing. Well thank. You very much critics. Thanks, everybody.