Scientists find massive Mayan society under Guatemala jungle

February 3, 2018
Scientists find massive Mayan society under Guatemala jungle
This digital 3D image provided by Guatemala's Mayan Heritage and Nature Foundation, PACUNAM, shows a depiction of the Mayan archaeological site at Tikal in Guatemala created using LiDAR aerial mapping technology. Researchers announced Thursday, Feb. 1, 2018, that using a high-tech aerial mapping technique they have found tens of thousands of previously undetected Mayan houses, buildings, defense works and roads in the dense jungle of Guatemala's Peten region, suggesting that millions more people lived there than previously thought. (Canuto & Auld-Thomas/PACUNAM via AP)

Researchers using a high-tech aerial mapping technique have found tens of thousands of previously undetected Mayan houses, buildings, defense works and pyramids in the dense jungle of Guatemala's Peten region, suggesting that millions more people lived there than previously thought.

The discoveries, which included industrial-sized agricultural fields and , were announced Thursday by an alliance of U.S., European and Guatemalan archaeologists working with Guatemala's Mayan Heritage and Nature Foundation.

The study estimates that roughly 10 million people may have lived within the Maya Lowlands, meaning that kind of massive food production might have been needed.

"That is two to three times more (inhabitants) than people were saying there were," said Marcello A. Canuto, a professor of Anthropology at Tulane University.

Researchers used a mapping technique called LiDAR, which stands for Light Detection And Ranging. It bounces pulsed laser light off the ground, revealing contours hidden by dense foliage.

The images revealed that the Mayans altered the landscape in a much broader way than previously thought; in some areas, 95 percent of available land was cultivated.

"Their agriculture is much more intensive and therefore sustainable than we thought, and they were cultivating every inch of the land," said Francisco Estrada-Belli, a Research Assistant Professor at Tulane University, noting the ancient Mayas partly drained swampy areas that haven't been considered worth farming since.

And the extensive defensive fences, ditch-and-rampart systems and irrigation canals suggest a highly organized workforce.

"There's state involvement here, because we see large canals being dug that are re-directing natural water flows," said Thomas Garrison, Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Ithaca College in New York.

The 810 square miles (2,100 square kilometers) of mapping done vastly expands the area that was intensively occupied by the Maya, whose culture flourished between roughly 1,000 BC and 900 AD. Their descendants still live in the region.

The mapping detected about 60,000 individual structures, including four major Mayan ceremonial centers with plazas and pyramids.

Garrison said that this year he went to the field with the LiDAR data to look for one of the roads revealed. "I found it, but if I had not had the LiDAR and known that that's what it was, I would have walked right over it, because of how dense the jungle is."

Garrison noted that unlike some other ancient cultures, whose fields, roads and outbuildings have been destroyed by subsequent generations of farming, the jungle grew over abandoned Maya fields and structures, both hiding and preserving them.

"In this the jungle, which has hindered us in our discovery efforts for so long, has actually worked as this great preservative tool of the impact the culture had across the landscape," noted Garrison, who worked on the project and specializes in the city of El Zotz, near Tikal.

LiDAR revealed a previously undetected structure between the two sites that Garrison says "can't be called anything other than a Maya fortress."

"It's this hill-top citadel that has these ditch and rampart systems ... when I went there, one of these things in nine meters tall," he noted.

In a way, the structures were hiding in plain sight.

"As soon as we saw this we all felt a little sheepish," said Canuto said of the LiDAR images, "because these were things that we had been walking over all the time."

Explore further: Experts discover hidden ancient Maya structures in Guatemala

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unrealone1
2 / 5 (3) Feb 03, 2018
When will any of this city be dough up
katesisco
3 / 5 (2) Feb 03, 2018
And there is evidence of more. Cities up the Amazon. Years ago I wrote a Google Drive paper (on the net available) showing that the French viticulture was saved by this very reason. On the American east coast are grape vines now wild. They have pest that are so complex they must be the product of cultivation. When the French viticulture collapsed due to vine pests surviving to complete their life cycle over 3 years, the answer was to graft American vine roots onto the French vines. The American roots saved French viticulture. The reason was due to the intense cultivation of the American vines over centuries providing the vines with resistance to the existing pests. Evidence of an extensive and highly technical civilization in the Americas.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1.2 / 5 (6) Feb 03, 2018
More evidence that these precolumbian civilizations were far more dangerous than we've been led to believe, which is why the invasion was launched to destroy them before they were able to purchase western war tech with massive amounts of euro economy- and culture-destroying precious metals and drugs.

Planned for centuries and waged largely with bioweapons, this invasion was the only way to save Europe and the rest of the world from certain destruction by Inca, Aztec, and Mayan joint conquest and domination.

And it is also why the invaders desperately sought to obliterate any evidence of the true nature of the threat, or of any previous euro and African contact. Preparation necessarily required centuries of staged euro conflict in order to mature tech and tactics, as well as inoculating the euro continent by intentionally spreading these diseases beforehand so that unintended reverse contamination would not critically weaken economies during the conquest.

True or what?
KBK
5 / 5 (12) Feb 03, 2018
When will any of this city be dough up


Only if kneads be.
neiorah
1 / 5 (3) Feb 03, 2018
If you think about it with not being on any side, humans suck and they do not care about the life of others. It is selfish that either side thought to conquer the other one and then millions of innocent people had to die to satisfy some selfish act or perceived threat. REALLY . it is probably true every word.
Dark_Solar
3 / 5 (2) Feb 03, 2018
In the LiDAR image, does anyone else see the shape similarity between the pyramidal structures and ancient temple structures commonly found in southeast Asia? Is that a height exaggeration used to accentuate found features or is an accurate representation of what's hiding in the jungle?
doogsnova
not rated yet Feb 03, 2018
There is a short excerpt from Billy Meier which lists the causes of death for the Mayan people here: https://billymeie...-causes/
According to this information, at their peak population of all the tribes put together was 17 million.
antigoracle
4 / 5 (2) Feb 03, 2018
When will any of this city be dough up


Only if kneads be.


The city will rise again.
torbjorn_b_g_larsson
5 / 5 (3) Feb 04, 2018
Great that the added observations makes traditional state building sense. Roads connecting cities were missing, as well as the fortifications that the many brutal cultures - between cities wars, mass killings of prisoners - at the time suggest.

In the LiDAR image, does anyone else see the shape similarity between the pyramidal structures and ancient temple structures commonly found in southeast Asia?


Or northern America, or southwest Asia, or Africa. Pyramids are architectural archetypes [sic], since they are the type of foundation of major construct that civilizations can - and do - make.
torbjorn_b_g_larsson
5 / 5 (3) Feb 04, 2018
If you think about it with not being on any side, humans suck and they do not care about the life of others. It is selfish that either side thought to conquer the other one and then millions of innocent people had to die to satisfy some selfish act or perceived threat. REALLY . it is probably true every word.


If it is 'true' you would have provided evidence.
- What conquering do you refer to, Maya cities were long lived city states?
- What lack of care do you refer to? Say, of the global population 2000 20 %, 1 in 5, were poor, 2015 9 %, less than 1 in 10 is under the poverty line, and perhaps we are at 1 in 20 today or very soon! Locally here in the 16th century the majority walked around (or not) with head wounds; today the murder rate is less than 1 in a million per year. When I look at the data, some cultures have been brutal but given the chance humans definitely care and definitely non-suck.

antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (6) Feb 04, 2018
The study estimates that roughly 10 million people may have lived within the Maya Lowlands, meaning that kind of massive food production might have been needed.

Especially given that transport of food with limited speed would put a hard limit on the size a city could be in order to still be sutainable with the surrounding farmland. I wonder what the upper limit of such a city/region would be.

When will any of this city be dough up

That's on a knead to know basis.
Dark_Solar
3 / 5 (2) Feb 04, 2018
@torbjorn_b_g_larsson

Sorry, I should have been more detailed; I was thinking specifically about the similarity between the LiDAR image and the height-to-width ratios of the Nubian pyramids at Meroe, Brihadisvara Temple at Thanjavur, the Temple of Gangaikondacholapuram, etc. rather than the generally more widely-based pyramids found elswhere in the Americas, northern Egypt and the Middle East. And again, there's the larger question of whether the LiDAR images are at strict 1:1 WxLxH dimensional values or whether the H dimensional value has been exaggerated to make vertical fluctuations more readily apparent. What interests me most is the possibility that these new discoveries could lend support to previously posited hypotheses on pre-Columbian techno-cultural exchange between central/south American cultural groups and African/Southeast Asian/Indian seafaring societies vis-a-vis apparently West African features of Olmec heads and the genetic markers from Polynesians still...[cont.]
Dark_Solar
1 / 5 (1) Feb 04, 2018
...extant in current South American genotypes. Also, the evidence of massive hydrological engineering, extensive agricultural exploitation and city-building seems similar to archaeological findings specifically in the jungles around Angkor Wat and more generally around temple complexes in southern India. That's not to say that similar environmental influences aren't going to generate similar responses across all sectors of human civilization, I just find it very interesting (and somewhat skepticism-inducing) that such strongly culturally-influenced structures should similarly proliferate across such wide geographical obstacles during same time-frame without some amount of cross-cultural exchange, whether it be via trade, conquest or simple, migratory transport.
rrwillsj
3.7 / 5 (3) Feb 04, 2018
D_S in general I agree with your analysis and questions.

I think it is important that we not fall into the steaming piles of assumption that bigoted and prejudiced pseudo-archeology that stinks up our libraries.

Over thousands of years, many different people kept reinventing similar structures and infrastructure. Based on the technology they developed LOCALLY. Upon social organizations and trade routes and religious ferment to contribute new ideas.

That's why you get these infantile cultists who insist on supernatural or super LGM's or some such nonsense. To explain similar construction by those whom the cultist dismiss as primitive savages. Who could not possibly have invented anything for themselves.

The cultists are perpetual tourists sneering and degrading the impoverished natives entertaining them. Those who confuse the cocoon of technology that coddles their fat, white asses. With the humanist ideal of civilization.

TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (1) Feb 04, 2018
Hey there willis

The cultists are perpetual tourists sneering and degrading the impoverished natives entertaining them. Those who confuse the cocoon of technology that coddles their fat, white asses. With the humanist ideal of civilization
You're feeling especially wordy today aren't you?
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (2) Feb 04, 2018
nnocent people had to die to satisfy some selfish act or perceived threat. REALLY
Not perceived. REAL. And not innocent. These cultures practiced ritual warfare and human sacrifice. Ten thousand on one long weekend.

Further, their cities were larger than any in Europe. They had million-man armies. And if their gold and drugs were to hsve found their way into europe through independent trade, economies would have collapsed and cultures destroyed.

The resulting death toll would have been worse than the plague.

Imagine these virulent cultures with all the warmaking tech available in europe and the muslim world, combined with the vast resources of the American continents.

Angriff ist die beste Verteidigung.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (1) Feb 04, 2018
that such strongly culturally-influenced structures should similarly proliferate across such wide geographical obstacles during same time-frame
Absolutely. After 10k years they all arose within a millennium or 2. From the Qin dynasty to the Aztec. The great pyramids in Egypt were built almost instantly after the culture was established... no long period of tech evolution.

This is not evidence of happenstance but diplomacy. Some believe that the original culture existed in the plain which is now at the bottom of the Persian gulf. Jared diamond describes this area as the source of the Eden myth in his book 'Guns Germs and Steel.'

The thing about the Mesoamerican cultures is that they were uniquely configured for instant and thorough conquest, which may lend credence to the idea that a priesthood was sent in advance to instruct rulers there on how to establish enduring stability while preparing them for conquest.

The message is an irresistible one.
Dark_Solar
1 / 5 (1) Feb 04, 2018
@GhostofOtto

I'm obligated to admit a certain fondness for Diamond's work, especially following "1491" -I'm a big fan of "1491" due to its primary source material being journals of first-arrivals in the Americas- and "Collapse". Separate from those lines (but not to venture into the "E.T.-directive" line of rationalization), it's hard to ignore the possibility of cross-cultural influence in the Americas relative to pyramid-building in light of some arrangement correlations (Orion's Belt configuration). From a rigidly evidence-oriented standpoint, it would be disingenuous to make any statement pro or con about the 'why' of the pyramids --the evidence shows what it shows and I'm absolutely content to see what forensic excavations turn up. Who knows --maybe there'll be some sequenceable bones and/or tools which will show links in both eastern and western directions.
TrollBane
not rated yet Feb 05, 2018
My understanding of what Diamond suggested in GG&S was that the marshes were the source for Eden, not some inundated plain now under the Persian Gulf. It has been a while since I read it, so I'm willing to be corrected.
TrollBane
4.2 / 5 (5) Feb 05, 2018
When will any of this city be dough up

Only if kneads be.

The city will rise again."

These puns are half-baked.
Dark_Solar
5 / 5 (1) Feb 05, 2018
Correction-- 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus by Charles C. Mann. Not Jared Diamond but still an interesting read.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (1) Feb 05, 2018
From a rigidly evidence-oriented standpoint, it would be disingenuous to make any statement pro or con about the 'why' of the pyramids --the evidence shows what it shows and I'm absolutely content to see what forensic
Forensically-speaking, we can first observe the systematic elimination of evidence. For instance, out of the 10k++ Mayan books found, only 3 remain, the rest destroyed by the church.

We also look for motive, means, and opportunity. I've already described the motive. And we have the residue of tobacco and cocaine in over 100 Egyptian mummies as one bit of evidence that trade between the hemispheres was probable.

As to means, you're probably aware of '1421: The Year China Discovered America'. Whether or not the voyage took place, it describes the potential in detail.

We also have evidence of Viking settlements and exploration, the piri ries map, euro DNA in amerind genomes, and a great deal more.

Plenty of opportunity, means, and motive.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (1) Feb 05, 2018
In addition to the destruction of evidence we can consider the systematic misrepresentations of these civilizations through the centuries as small, ephemeral, backward, and peaceful. This all changed dramatically after archeology exposed their true extent, their advanced knowledge of science and technology, and the bloodthirsty nature of their religions.

We also have unexplained mysteries such as the construction of macchu picchu as a refuge for the priesthood 2 gens before the invasion, and the 25k miles of paved roads and bridges in peru at about the same time, which proved essential to the rapid movement of mounted conquistadors and precious metal-laden carts.

And so much more.
TheGhostofOtto1923
not rated yet Feb 05, 2018
Re Eden in the Persian gulf, I seemed to recall that it was diamond who identified the 4 rivers, including the Tigris and euphrates, as well as a the possibility of a protocivilization at the bottom of the gulf being the progenitor of egypt, Sumer, and the harappans. But i cant find it.

Here's an article on the potential;
https://www.lives...ulf.html
Turgent
1 / 5 (1) Feb 05, 2018
Rather impressive achievement for a civilization with no domesticated animals, except maybe parrots and guinea pigs, and hard metals. The Egyptians had draft animals.

That similar civilizations completely separate from one another basically developed less than 3000 years apart deserves some scholarly work.
Zzzzzzzz
5 / 5 (3) Feb 05, 2018
Anywhere you look, honey bees hives all look the same.
rrwillsj
1 / 5 (1) Feb 05, 2018
What is amazing is the demand by the simple-minded for simplistic answers in a universe of inchoate chaos.

Arguing fabulous definitions for minuscule evidence randomly gathered from damaged sites.

Then insisting that the long-dead and forgettable fulfill our sub-conscious need to dictate reality based upon our imaginings.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (1) Feb 05, 2018
Willis waxes poetic
What is amazing is the demand by the simple-minded for simplistic answers in a universe of inchoate chaos.

Arguing fabulous definitions for minuscule evidence randomly gathered from damaged sites.

Then insisting that the long-dead and forgettable fulfill our sub-conscious need to dictate reality based upon our imaginings.
So willis how come you never substantiate all the crap you post?

When people challenge you you ought to respond.

Its only polite you know.
EnricM
not rated yet Feb 06, 2018
does anyone else see the shape similarity between the pyramidal structures and ancient temple structures commonly found in southeast Asia?


Nope. You mean stuppas and Hindu temples (https://commons.w...iva.svg)

You may have compared them with Angkor Wat. The similarities are superficial and the Asian structures are way more recent: XII century - XV Century.

The Mayan structures are basically truncated pyramids with temples on top. Their ceremonial space was on top and the rest was mostly "solid". The pyramid itself is made of earth and stones. The Asian structures are buildings as we are used to, this means basically a roofed space, think of a medieval cathedral.

Thus, no, no Ancient Astronauts, specially if we remember that we are speaking about the early medieval period up to the times of the Protestant Reform.
EnricM
not rated yet Feb 06, 2018
Angkor Wat


You realise that Angkor Wat was MEDIEVAL city, right?
Dark_Solar
not rated yet Feb 07, 2018
@EnricM: Yes; my point is the similarity of intensity relative to civil engineering and overall density of estimated population. More-over, I'm not suggesting that technological creep was from southeast Asia to the Americas; for all we know, agri-tech and hydro-engineering innovations could have been made in the Americas, picked up by one of the far-ranging, sea-faring cultures of Polynesia/southeast Asia/Indian sub-continent and brought back.

@GhostofOtto: nope, haven't read '1421: The Year China Discovered America' -definitely going on my reading list- but I'm somewhat cognizant of China's "lost" expedition.

Eh...as far as tobacco and cocaine in the mummies, I'm not convinced; they've been out of the ground a long time and there were a lot of...hi-jinks back in the '10s, '20s & '30s. We need a clincher like a fresh, untouched, gold-laden tomb (yeah, I know, it's a lot to hope for) with a mummy showing signs of new-world contamination.
TheGhostofOtto1923
not rated yet Feb 07, 2018
'Balabanova et. al. are shown to have used and confirmed their findings with accepted methods. The possibility of the compounds being byproducts of decomposition is shown to be without precedent and highly unlikely. The possibility that the researchers made evaluations from faked mummies of recent drug users is shown to be highly unlikely in almost all cases. Several additional cases of identified American drugs in mummies are discussed. Additionally, it is shown that significant evidence exists for contact with the Americas in pre-Columbian times. It is determined that the original findings are supported by substantial evidence despite the initial criticisms."

-Sounds like science to me.

""The major reason for the initial criticisms to Balabanova's work is the disbelief in pre-Columbian transoceanic contacts."

-Which isnt really a cogent argument... (We cant imagine that it happened and so it didnt.)

"a fresh, untouched, gold-laden tomb"

-Scientists seem satisfied.
Dark_Solar
1 / 5 (1) Feb 07, 2018
@ EnricM:

Sorry, I should have been more detailed; I was thinking specifically about the similarity between the LiDAR image and the height-to-width ratios of the Nubian pyramids at Meroe, Brihadisvara Temple at Thanjavur, the Temple of Gangaikondacholapuram, etc. rather than the generally more widely-based pyramids found elswhere in the Americas, northern Egypt and the Middle East.


Additionally, I'm not one to buy into the "extraterrestrial influence" hypothesis although I'm also not willing to categorically rule it out; the universe is a very large place and there's every possibility of other civilizations that could be millions of years older than our own. I prefer to think that -assuming we aren't alone- we're at least classified as a protected planet or off-limits wildlife preserve.
Dark_Solar
not rated yet Feb 07, 2018
@GhostofOtto

I'm not saying no, I'm just cautiously skeptical; there'll always be nay-sayers and outright deniers among the folks who either don't understand the underlying science or can't handle new facts that wreck their world-construct...which is why I'm hoping for a freshly-discovered, untouched tomb & mummy with New World contaminants to close the debate in a hard and conclusive manner. Granted, it probably wouldn't convince the conspiracy-theorizing fringe-folk, but it would wrap things up nicely for those of us who are just looking for that final nail in the sarcophagus.
TheGhostofOtto1923
not rated yet Feb 08, 2018
I'm hoping for a freshly-discovered, untouched tomb & mummy with New World contaminants to close the debate in a hard and conclusive manner
Well of course. But I think there is an abundance of circumstantial evidence to convince beyond a shadow of a doubt.

But we may find proof elsewhere. I would like to see the excavation of Qins tomb for evidence of worldwide contact among Leaders. The delay is suspicious given the potential for discovery.

I would also like to see detailed mapping of the persian gulf and robotic archeology conducted there. Also currently submerged coastal plains in key locations which would have been exposed at roughly the same time.

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