A remarkable discovery related to the ancient civilization of the Mayans has surfaced in the jungles of Guatemala. Over 60 000 structures, forming a megalopolis of causeways, plazas, palaces and housing units, have shocked the scientific world.
The find can undoubtedly be labeled as one of the largest and most spectacular archaeological finds of the Mayan civilization of all time. Among the hidden ruins there lie the remains of pyramids, palaces and roads.
A unique laser technology has enabled researchers to peer beneath the tree line in the northern region of Peten - an area near the previously discovered cities of the Mayans. Thanks to it they've been able to localize houses, palaces, pyramids, causeways and defensive structures. The find is further proof that the Maya civilization living in Central America was in its prime 1500 years ago, even surpassing that of ancient Greece and China.
The discovered mega-city is more complex than anything the researchers had ever expected to find. The impressive, vast Pre-Columbian megalopolis was once inhabited by over 15 million people. There are so many defensive walls and fortifications that it's safe to say that these people waged many wars during their existence.
The find was made possible with the help of Lidar - a surveying system that uses light pulses for detection and measurement. A drone with a scanner on board mapped out over 810 sq miles (2100 sq km) of the jungle of Peten which borders Mexico and Belize. The 3D maps of the surface were generated using a pulsating laser connected to a GPS. Archaeologists had not even noticed the walls in the area which spanned for miles.
However, the discovery comes with a new set of problems. The site is massive and needs to be studied, while that in turn requires time and resources. The information that the megalopolis yields tells the story of a 3000-year-old civilization. The fortifications and great roads are testament to Mayan modifications of the natural landscape in an unheard-of scale. Data so far indicates that supposedly uninhabitable areas were in fact densely populated.
The received images show roads connecting the city centers and quarries where materials were excavated, as well as advanced systems of irrigation and terracing for farming. City centers with sidewalks, houses, ceremonial centers, irrigation canals and supports were also found.
Research will undoubtedly show that the Mayans were one of the most technologically advanced civilizations inhabiting the planet at the time. No other ancient culture had developed to such an extent so early on in history.
One of the most mind-boggling features discovered so far is the complex system of roads. Foot traffic along it was particularly heavy. The reason? It being a system of wide causeways above the ground allowed people to easily wade across the jungle even during the rainy season.