This Article is From Jan 14, 2023

2,000-Year-Old Mayan City Discovered Beneath Guatemala's Rainforest

A vast, 2,000-year-old Maya site in Guatemala that was hidden by a rainforest has been found by researchers.

2,000-Year-Old Mayan City Discovered Beneath Guatemala's Rainforest

The site encompassed a web of nearly 1,000 urban settlements.

Researchers discovered the ruins of a large Mayan town buried beneath the rainforest while surveying northern Guatemala from the air, according to Metro News.

According to the news outlet, the region, which is close to the Mexican border and spans an enormous 650 square miles, is known as the Mirador-Calakmul Karst Basin. Archaeologists estimate that the city, which would have existed 2,000 years ago, would have been made up of approximately 1,000 settlements connected by 110 miles of causeways. The navigable causeways (cleared, raised beds used as highways) were 110 miles long, making it relatively easy for inhabitants of the civilisation to travel to nearby settlements.

The discovery was made using LiDAR (light detection and ranging) by a team of researchers from several American universities as well as collaborators from France and Guatemala.


LiDAR images of examples of Tier 4 sites.

According to Interesting Engineering, similar to radar, LiDAR is a detection system based on laser light rather than radio waves. Researchers decided to use it because LiDAR can penetrate rainforests and reveal what is underneath them.

In their study, which was published in the journal Ancient Mesoamerica, the researchers said, "This study uses airborne Lidar data to demonstrate how complex societies organised their infrastructure to reflect their socio-economic organisation and political power."

As stated in the release, the researchers also found evidence of large platforms and pyramids in some settlements, which, they note, suggests some of them served as centralised hubs for work, recreation, and politics. They note also that some of the settlements had ball courts that prior research has shown were used for playing a variety of sports native to the region.

The researchers also discovered that the civilization's people built canals to move water and reservoirs to hold it for use during dry periods.