The area in northern Guatemala is covered with dense forest. None could imagine that a long history of civilisation was buried there.
The scientists have claimed that they recently discovered the ruins of a Mayan civilisation in the Central American country, a home to volcanoes and rainforests. They are thrilled to find thousands of Mayan structures, which can be considered as an evident of ‘rich and modern’ lifestyle of the Mayan people. According to scientists, the Mayan people used to live in almost twice the area of medieval England about 1,500 years ago. It was previously thought that the population of this civilisation was around five million. However, Tulane University archaeologist Francisco Estrada-Belli said: “It’s no longer unreasonable to think that there were 10 to 15 million people there.”
Researchers recently scanned the 810 square miles area in northern Guatemala’s Petén Department and identified more than 60,000 previously unknown structures. They came to know that the Mayan people used to build houses with bamboos and straws, although they used stones to construct the base. Researchers further claimed that the Mayan people used to give a special importance to the defence mechanism while constructing forts, its walls and trenches circling around the forts. And the biggest discovery in this entire research is a seven-storey pyramid surrounded by trees that is hidden under the jungle. Researchers have also been surprised by the drainage system of the Mayan city.
According to sources, the entire study has been carried out with the help of LiDAR (Light Detection And Ranging) technology. Anthropologists explain that the technology is just like a magic. It is used to find archaeological structures from the Equatorial Zone. Aircraft-mounted LiDAR sensors shoot million of laser rays into the ground in every four seconds. And when the rays come back, the exact three-dimensional picture of the area is made from its wavelength. The technology works in a way similar to the bats locating their prey with the help of sound waves. Previously, scientists used similar technology to conduct research on old civilisations, like Greece or China.
According to Professor of Archaeology and Anthropology at Brown University Dr Stephen Houston, scientists have been conducting researches on Maya civilisation for the last 150 years….but this is the most important discovery. “I think this is one of the greatest advances in over 150 years of Maya archaeology,” he said. Dr Houston also said that he found the magnitude of the recent survey “breathtaking”. “I know it sounds hyperbolic, but when I saw the (LiDAR) imagery, it did bring tears to my eyes,” he stressed.
Meanwhile, the National Geographic has said the new findings show that the region’s pre-Columbian civilisation was “far more complex and interconnected than most Maya specialists had supposed”. Researchers – by using a high-tech aerial mapping technique – have not only discovered previously undetected Mayan houses, buildings, defence works and pyramids, but also industrial-sized agricultural fields and irrigation canals in the dense jungles of Guatemala.
Dr Houston informed the media that the mapping of 810 square miles (or 2,100sqkm) – which was occupied by the Maya – has already been done and the scientists would soon prepare the final report.
The Maya culture flourished in Guatemala between approximately 1,000 BC and 900 AD and their descendants still live there.
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