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Lost Mayan civilization discovered in Guatemala

A team of researchers discovered more than 60,000 concealed Maya ruins in Guatemala in a leading archaeological milestone.

The Mayan civilization is located in the tropical lowlands of what is now called Guatemala. It has reached the peak of its power and influence at around 6th century A.D. where it excelled at mathematics, agriculture, architecture, calendar-making, pottery, symbolic artworks, and even hieroglyph writing. However, by about A.D. 900, those great stone cities of Maya were abandoned and since then, scholars still argued the reason for drastic decline of the civilization.

An advanced laser technology called Lidar (light detection and ranging) was used to survey digitally the forest foliage which showed palaces, houses, defensive fortifications, and elevated highways. The landscape was believed to house millions of people. The team mapped more than 810 square miles or 2,100 square meters in northern part of Peten.

lidar technology
A 3-D digital image created using Lidar technology of Maya archaeological area at Tikal in Guatemala. (Photo credit: Canuto & Auld_Thomas/PACUNAM via AP)

Professor Stephen Houston of Archaeology and Anthropology at Brown University, defined this particular research and survey as “breathtaking.” He described that seeing those imagery using the Lidar technology “did bring tears to my eyes,” he said.

mayan civilization
The Maya city of Tikal was believed to be just a small portion of the vast hidden metropolis of Mayan civilization.
(photo credit: BBC)
mayan civilization
(photo credit: The Sun)

Lidar Technology helped other researches of hidden cities near the ancient temple of Angkor Wat located in Cambodia.

Initial Results of the Survey

Using the lidar technology (photo credit: BBC)

Researchers told Associated Press that they believe that there were as many as ten million people that lived the place called Maya Lowlands – which was two or three times as many as experts previously believed. And since those ancient people have to eat, it was thought that in some places, 95% of the available land was depleted and drained since the fall of Maya.

During the Maya time (A.D. 250- 900), the civilization has a place which was twice as the size of the medieval England – according to National Geographic and was densely populated.  Lidar also showed a previously unreported structure that could be a Maya fortress. This and other recent discovered fortresses showed that Maya might have had conflicts and even a warfare at its early period in their history.

The ruins of some cultures were destroyed from generations to generations and after Maya deserted their empire in A.D. 900, it developed into jungle over the “fields and structures.” However, the structures hidden for centuries also helped in preserving them.


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