Archaeologists discover lost world of ancient Mayans cities buried in remote jungle
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Featured Image Credit: Al Argueta / Alamy Stock Photo / Wikimedia
Archaeologists have discovered a vast network of Mayan cities, in the remote jungle.
The incredible find in Guatemala is causing experts to rewrite the history books, with over 400 new settlements found in the area.
If that wasn’t enough, one archaeologist has revealed that the cities were linked by roads, calling it ‘the first freeway system in the world’.
Incredibly, some of the sites date back as far as 1,000 BC, with archaeologists previously believing that the Mayans had been nomadic, hunter-gathers at this time.
Now, the discovery in the El Mirador jungle has been dubbed a ‘game-changer’ by one expert on the project, Richard Hansen.
The researcher professor at the University of Idaho said: "We now know that the Preclassic period was one of extraordinary complexity and architectural sophistication, with some of the largest buildings in world history being constructed during this time.”
He continued, telling the Washington Post that discovery has uncovered ‘a whole volume of human history that we've never known.'
It’s made all the more amazing as various structures were found in an area only accessible via helicopter or a gruelling 40-mile hike, with equipment.
This part of the rainforest is incredibly dense, with the archaeological team also having to be aware of jaguars and snakes – who roam the area.
Whilst the likes of Indiana Jones wouldn’t have been brave enough to take this intrepid adventure, the hard work of research teams has paid off.
Not only did they discover 417 new cities dating back over 3000 years, but the settlements were also interconnected with 110 miles of ‘superhighways’.
Much like modern cities, the sites also show evidence of hydraulic systems and agricultural infrastructures.
The advanced form of radar also helped archaeologists penetrate the dense vegetation and canopy of the rainforest, without damaging the local environment.
From these initial scans, experts were then able to generate 3D images of the sites’ foundations and hypothesize what these settlements could have looked like.
Before this, most experts had to use drawings taken of the settlements in the El Mirador jungle, with the first 3D images not available until the late 1980.
Archaeologist Enrique Hernández, from San Carlos University, who worked on the project says that there are even more sites which have been uncovered thanks to the clever tech.
“Now there are more than 900 [settlements]. … We [couldn’t] see that before. It was impossible,” he told The Post excitedly.
Talk about finding buried treasure!