This week officials at Guatemala’s Mayan Heritage and Nature Foundation announced a major finding hidden in the depths of the Guatemalan rainforest that appears to add a massive new chapter in the history of Mayan and ancient civilization timelines. Working with a group of European and American archaeologists using state of the art technology, researches have unearthed a huge grouping of more than 60,000 buildings including houses, defense forts, agricultural fields and pyramids.
Utilizing a new laser light technique (Lidar System) that shoots lasers from a plane, scientists were able to penetrate the Earth’s surface and find the structures masked by centuries of time. A 3-d printed rendering of results show a distinctive and large civilization covered by foliage and buried beneath the ground.
This new research shows that the Mayan civilization peaked probably some 1200 years ago and can be considered comparable in sophistication to the great empires of Mesopotamia. Before this discovery archaeologists and historians had speculated the Mayan civilization a decentralized society but this new discovery points to an advanced network of centralized architecture and governance.
Egyptologist Sarah Parcak summarized the finding on Twitter as a “holy $hit” moment:
Some of the new discoveries were made close to previously searched areas. British archaeologist Thomas Garrison said that several years ago he came within 150 feet of one of the major monument’s discovered through this new technology. The close proximity of previous researches emphasizes how little we still know about some of the world’s most accessible sites.
This new historical timeline of the Mayan civilization illustrates our lack of a complete knowledge base of our shared past and confirms suspicions by many contemporary researches that our Earth is older and stranger than often believed. It also seeks to destroy myths about the civilization’s of the tropics who have generally been seen as somewhat less civilized and less centralized in their power and societal structures.
Tulane archeologist Marcello Canuto marvelled at the new information:
“We’ve had this western conceit that complex civilizations can’t flourish in the tropics, that the tropics are where civilizations go to die. But with the new LiDAR-based evidence from Central America and [Cambodia’s] Angkor Wat, we now have to consider that complex societies may have formed in the tropics and made their way outward from there.”
With the recent prehistoric fossil findings in Israel and the newly unearthed masses at the Turkish site Göbekli Tepe, the Mayan discovery is yet another challenge to our understanding of human history & is evidence that we have much left to learn.