An ancient Mayan kingdom from around 2,000 years ago has been discovered buried in northern Guatemala, researchers say.
Archaeologists discovered almost 1,000 ancient Mayan settlements in the Mirador-Calakmul karst basin and surrounding ridge. In these settlements they identified 417 cities, towns, and villages that existed in the period from 1000 B.C. C. and 100 d. C., according to a study published online Dec. 5 by Cambridge University Press.
Wearing LIDAR technology— a remote-sensing method that generates three-dimensional images and information about the Earth’s surface, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration — the researchers determined that the settlements comprised a more sophisticated and interconnected realm.
The archaeologists said their findings show a highly functional state-level kingdom “connected by causeways, forming a network of implicit social, political and economic interactions” and “requiring vast amounts of labor and resources, accumulated by presumably centralized organization and administration.” “. .”
These are some of their findings.
Within the settlement network, archaeologists discovered a total of 30 ballcourts, according to the study.
The courts, which were around 30 to 65 feet long, were typically made up of “two parallel structures, often on a north-south axis,” the researchers said.
At one of the largest sites, El Mirador, seven patios were discovered: three small and four large. The largest courtyards are located on the site’s Great Central Acropolis, indicating what might have been the ruler’s seat of power.
Water control: reservoirs and dams
The new discoveries also gave researchers a greater understanding of the extent to which ancient civilizations controlled their water sources.
Civilizations in the Mirador-Calakmul karst basin relied on the surrounding swamps as sources of water, creating a need for reservoirs to hold water, the researchers said. The LiDAR data revealed 195 man-made reservoirs, as well as “a series of monumental reservoir systems designed for the capture and control of vast amounts of water.”
Various dams were also discovered within the kingdom.
Calzadas: a “supreme achievement”
Described as a “supreme achievement,” a branching inter- and intra-site causeway system existed within the Maya kingdom, indicating “intra-community connectivity and integration,” the researchers said.
Most of the causeways in the system were built with mixtures of lime and clay that required considerable labor.
The new finds revealed that most of the causeways were centered around El Mirador, the largest civilization in the kingdom, suggesting “administrative centralization,” according to the researchers. The system also points towards the development of political and economic systems as a result of an authority.
Architecture: pyramids and e-grounds
The new finds also revealed the existence of intricate architectural structures throughout the kingdom.
Groups E, used for rituals and ceremonies, consist of a series of structures, usually a pyramid in front of a platform flanking a larger plaza. These groups were found in various settlements in the kingdom, varying in size depending on the complexity of the settlement, the researchers said.
The settlements also contained triadic architecture, typically pyramids.
The complex structures and construction materials used to erect these pyramids are indicative of the organization within the ancient settlements, the researchers said.
It is estimated that a pyramid, located in the center of El Mirador, required 5 years of constant work by 158 workers. “The entire building could have had between 6,000,000 and 10,000,000 person-days of labor,” the researchers said.