Mysteries Behind The Mayan Civilization
There is still much to be learned about the Mayan civilization despite the decades of research efforts that have surrounded it. There is still much of their legacy to be discovered, but recent findings have changed what we had once thought about the once-great civilization.
All previous beliefs have been challenged because of one discovery, and the researchers are left scratching their heads. They are reminded that much of what we know is a grain of rice compared to what is left to uncover. There is still much to the story of the Mayan civilization waiting to be discovered.
An Undiscovered Gem
Many know of the ruin called Teitihuacán and the magnificence of an ancient civilization that it showcases. The site is recognized for its intricate designs, and its captivating history, and tourists have been frequenting the destination for many years. But there is another equally impressive and mysterious city.
Tikal is a city located hundreds of thousands of miles away from Teotihuacán that is not as widely recognized. It’s a hidden gem waiting to be discovered, along with its unique history and alluring mystery. Tikal is a must-visit for anyone exploring ancient civilizations and their rich legacy.
Tikal was like Teotihuacán and a few other kingdoms and once ruled over vast territories in South America. Tikal had been grand before but remains lesser known despite that, especially compared to Teotihuacán. Researchers have and continue to make discoveries at Tikal that stun.
Their most recent discovery has left them thinking differently about what they had once believed was true. The more they find, the more the findings add to this hidden gem’s mystique and allure. The destination has become all the more fascinating.
It was discovered that the ancient Mayans of Tikal were skilled in building thousands of structures out of limestone. Some of these still stand today.
They were ingenious, but much of the city, dating back to around 400 BCE, has been buried beneath tropical forest and sand over the centuries. These hidden treasures are waiting to be dug up so that we may get a glimpse of what the rich history and architectural prowess of the ancient Mayans were like.
After they started excavations, light has finally been shed on why Tikal was once considered a highly significant kingdom. But they never anticipated just how much they would find.
The past few decades have been filled with archaeologists meticulously combing through the site, and modern technology has helped them see that much of what was previously believed about the Mayans is now being reconsidered. The ongoing studies provide new insights and change what we once understood of the Mayan civilization.
Peter and Bradley
Peter Wilkins and Bradley Rogers were part of a team of archaeologists who contributed significantly to uncovering the ancient structures of the Mayan civilization in the past few years. Bradley was captivated by the mysteries of the Mayans after dedicating years of his life to archaeology.
However, Peter was drawn to anything with a mysterious nature. The two of them made a good team and uncovered more about the Mayans than anyone else before. Any archeologist would recognize that they were invaluable assets.
Revising Previous Theories
Bradley and Peter discovered pathways and canals among the ruins of the tropical civilization, leading to previous theories being revised. They found the remnants of a playing field from ancient times where the Mayans played games like Pok-ta-Pok. It is more than three millennia old.
This was merely the beginning of their journey, and they had no idea how far off their previous theories were.
A Groundbreaking Survey
Bradley and Peter realized that traditional archaeology techniques have their reasons for working but also knew they needed innovative technology to uncover Tikal and its mysteries fully.
They conducted a comprehensive ground study to assess what they had yet to see in previous studies. This survey produced findings that stunned everyone. It changed what everyone had previously believed.
They got their hands on a LiDAR device – a ground penetration radar – which would help them detect hidden features buried beneath the Guatamalan jungle. They never would have known that Tikal was much larger than they thought if they didn’t see the scans.
But this was just the beginning of their excitement because they continued to make more discoveries that left them feeling thrilled.
LiDAR Reveals Suprising Details
The team was able to make significant advances while using LiDAR technology. They uncovered Tikal’s complete layout and architectural details, and the findings showed that the ancient city housed many more people than they had initially thought.
It is estimated that the city was home to approximately 60,000 people. Once they discovered the roads in the city, they realized they indicated a higher level of sophistication and complexity in their society. It was so much more than they had believed before.
We’ve Underestimated Them
In addition to showing that we grossly underestimated the population density, this new evidence confirms that the settlement system covered a large area rather than just a small part of it.
However, if we were wrong about something so major, what else could we have been wrong about?
More Sophisticated Than We Thought
It was clear from the LiDAR that the society living at Tikal was highly sophisticated. In fact, it could be compared to ancient empires like the one in Greece or the one in China.
As a result of the scans, scientists were able to map out Tikal’s area, which covered approximately 800 square miles.
Raised roads, however, were what truly proved how advanced society was. Those roads didn’t just lead in and out of the city, they led to places we never imagined possible.
There were roads connecting urban centers and quarries, but Bradly and Peter also noticed that Tikal’s people had complex irrigation systems.
Reconsidering What We Knew
It is possible that the Mayans did not use the same methods we do today, but because they did, we might have to reconsider everything we thought we knew about them.
The new evidence shows that the Mayans were not as simple as we thought, and there is still more to uncover, which truly had Bradley and Peter scratching their heads.
A Breakthrough in the Field
Despite being considered a breakthrough in archeology, LiDAR created a big backlog.
According to scientists, it will take more than a hundred years for all the LiDAR data to be fully understood. However, Bradly and Peter was able to follow up on their leads immediately after collecting them.
A Better Understanding
In light of the information their team uncovered, it was clear the Mayan kingdom of Tikal was densely populated and had the technology to build systems we never thought possible.
Two questions remain. First, how many people lived in Tikal when it was at its peak? And second, how did they use Tikal’s architecture?
Previously, scientists believed that people felt most comfortable living in societies with about 5 million people, but new research suggests that Tikal may have housed between 10 and 15 million people.
Several of them lived in low-lying swampy areas that we assumed were uninhabitable. That is where some of the answers lie.
A Love of Water
Bradly and Peter’s team also discovered that the Mayans made full use of the water around them by incorporating waterways into their cities.
To control the flow of water, they even built canals and reservoirs to redirect traffic over the wetlands during the tropical rainy season.
Prepared for War
The team also discovered that warfare had been happening throughout the civilization, not just at the end.
Researchers found evidence that the Mayans put a great deal of effort into building defensive structures across Tikal. Could they have found more?
Finding What’s Hidden
Although some things still need to be excavated by hand, LiDAR provided scientists with an opportunity to see things they wouldn’t have otherwise.
Bradly and Peter were able to reveal what had been hidden over the years and to strip back the veil on what we thought we knew about the Mayans. But one site in particular got the scientific community buzzing.
Seeing Things in a New Light
In the words of a professor who wasn’t involved with the project, “The ambition and the impact of this project are just incredible. After decades of searching through the forests, no archaeologists had ever discovered these sites.”
In 2021, Bradley and Peter made a discovery that would prove to be the most significant in archeology and Mayan history.
A New Discovery
It was published in September 2021 that a study detailed the most recent discovery LiDAR had made at the Tikal dig site, which had been considered to be just another neighborhood housing the once massive population.
There was something mysterious about it, something scientists couldn’t explain.
It Seemed Normal at First
Initially, Bradly and Peter thought the area looked pretty normal. From above, it looked like any other neighborhood they had visited.
When they started digging, they discovered it was very different from the rest. While some of it looked incredibly familiar, it seemed out of place.
As one of Mesoamerica’s most important cities, Teotihuacán, located 750 miles north of Tikal, has many well-known structures and was once known throughout the world for its architectural beauty.
Its architecture contributed to the architecture of many nearby cities, which is understandable given the well-placed buildings in its eight-square mile radius. But what does Tikal have to do with it?
Shrouded in Mystery
Pyramids, citadels, and temples are all notable buildings in Teotihuacán, connected by the Avenue of the Dead.
It’s a view many of us have seen before, but few of us know its history. One end of the avenue points to the Pyramid of the Moon, while the other points to Cerro Gordo.
Its Beginning and End
Despite Teotihuacán’s fame, its true history is still unknown. Historians don’t even know who settled there first or what happened to the Mayans who lived there.
The only thing we know is that by 750 A.D.E the large city was empty. Does this correspond to what happened at Tikal?
What Were They Looking At?
As with everything else they found, Bradly and Peter were shocked at the findings of the latest scans.
The only difference was that this discovery would leave every archeologist in the world with more questions than they ever imagined possible. Unfortunately, no one alive had the answers.
The Exact Location
After seeing what Bradly and Peter saw, they decided to send a team to excavate the site immediately. With LiDAR technology, they knew exactly where to start.
As they couldn’t believe what the scan showed them, they wanted to see it for themselves before releasing the information. But what were they seeing that had them in a rush?
They Were Caught Off Guard
In earlier excavations, teams discovered that Tikal and Teotihuacán had a trading relationship. That discovery was made when teams discovered artifacts belonging to Teotihuacán at Tikal.
Until recently, the relationship between Teotihuacán and Tikal was downplayed, but now there can be no doubting how strong they are.
Digging Into the Unknown
There was one thing that stood out when the team finally uncovered the neighborhood they saw in the scans: it was a smaller version of Teotihuacan.
It had its citadel and pyramid as well as other structures that seemed to be replicas. Amazingly, the layout was very similar to that of Teotihuacán. The only difference was that the buildings were a bit smaller. Our understanding of history was challenged once again by this discovery.
In order to protect the privacy of those depicted, some names, locations, and identifying characteristics have been changed and are products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblances to actual events or places or persons, living or dead, are entirely coincidental.