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Unearth the Hidden Universe of 417 Mayan Cities in a Distant Jungle

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Warren Henry
Warren Henry is a tech geek and video game enthusiast whose engaging and immersive narratives explore the intersection of technology and gaming.

Beneath 2,172 square kilometers (1,350 sq mi) of dense jungle in northern Guatemala, scientists have discovered 417 cities that are about 3,000 years old.

These cities are connected by about 177 km of “highways,” a network researchers have dubbed “the world’s first highway system,” according to Business Insider, according to an article published by the Washington Post.

In a joint archaeological study of the United States and Guatemala, scientists say this vast network of roads and cities, as well as complex ceremonial complexes, hydraulic systems and agricultural infrastructure, indicate that the ancient Maya civilization, which stretched into what is now Central America, was much more advanced than previously thought.

According to the study, these findings reflect “social and economic organization and political power.”

The history of this lost world dates back to about 1000 BC, that is, to the pre-classic Mayan era, when the society was a nomadic group that combined hunting and gathering.

Richard Hansen, lead author of the study and professor of archeology at the University of Idaho, said the discovery in southern Guatemala’s El Mirador jungle region is “a game changer.”

The discovery is located in a remote rainforest on the border of Mexico and Guatemala. It can only be reached by helicopter or on foot about 65 km (40 miles), a difficult path through dense rainforest full of snakes and tigers, according to the Washington Post.

#LIFESTYLE | Archaeologists have discovered the lost world of 417 ancient Mayan cities buried in remote jungle connected by miles of “superhighways”, according to WaPo https://t.co/0rzudjvgXj

— Business Insider Africa (@BusInsiderSSA) May 22, 2023

“Now we know that the Preclassic period was characterized by extraordinary complexity and architectural sophistication, and some of the largest buildings in world history were built during this time,” Hansen said. Pointing out that the results revealed “a whole volume of human history that we did not know before.”

A team of scientists from the US and Guatemala has been mapping regions of Central America since 2015 and is using lidar technology, an advanced type of laser-based archaeological mapping radar, to reveal minute details such as ancient vegetation.

According to the study, the technology has allowed scientists to see ancient dams, reservoirs, pyramids, platforms, bridge networks and even football fields.

Enrique Hernandez, an archaeologist at the University of San Carlos in Guatemala City and co-author of the paper, told The Washington Post that with more work on the project, it could have the same impact as the historic discovery of the Egyptian pyramids.

Source: Business Insider

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