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By shooting billions of lasers at the ground, scientists have uncovered evidence of a sophisticated civilization left by the ancient Maya who lived in the northern Yucatán Peninsula in what is now Mexico, a new study finds.

The laser survey revealed that in a region of the hilly northern Yucatán, known as the Puuc (pronounced "Pook"), the Maya built remarkable structures, including artificial reservoirs, more than 1,200 ovens, a handful of terraces for farming and nearly 8,000 platforms where houses were built. The ancient Maya also quarried the rock there, the laser scan revealed.

"It seems to have been a very prosperous area because we have all these masonry [stone] houses," study lead researcher William Ringle, a professor emeritus of anthropology at Davidson College in North Carolina, told Live Science. "It seems like people had access to what they needed."

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