Lidar found the ancient capital of the Serpent Kingdom in the jungle

(ORDO NEWS) — Excavations of a powerful city on the border of Mexico and Guatemala were first carried out almost a hundred years ago. Even then, its area amazed archaeologists. But new technologies may even increase the scale of Calakmul.

Calakmul is the third capital of the Mayan dynasty Kanul (Serpents) known to us. According to modern ideas, the kingdom of Canul existed from the 1st century BC to the 10th century AD, and it was his actions that largely determined the politics of the Maya in the late classical period.

The city was found in 1931 by the American archaeologist Cyrus Lundell. In fact, he was a botanist and went to the jungle to replenish the herbarium, but stumbled upon previously unknown pyramids there.

As a result of many years of research, which was regularly interrupted due to the difficult political situation in the region, archaeologists came to the conclusion that the found city is Chiknaab (the settlement is called Calakmul), the last capital of the powerful Kanul kingdom (other names are Kaan, the Snake Kingdom) Maya.

Lidar found the ancient capital of the Serpent Kingdom in the jungle 1
Lidar showed complex urban development

The area of ​​the city was determined at 20 square kilometers. This is about twice the size of ancient Babylon. Archaeologists have found about five thousand buildings, one hundred of which were very large public buildings and pyramids.

According to scientists, about 50-60 thousand people lived in the city at the peak of its heyday. The new data could substantially raise the population estimate.

The National Institute of Anthropology and History of Mexico, within the framework of the Bajo Laberinto (Below the Labyrinth) project, conducted an aerial lidar survey of 95 square kilometers of the jungle adjacent to the previously studied territory of Calakmul.

The technical side was taken over by the National Airborne Laser Mapping Center of the University of Houston (Texas, USA).

The results showed that dense and complex urban development is hidden under the dense tree cover. Residential complexes have been found that can be compared to modern townhouses, only larger in size. Some of them consisted of more than 60 separate buildings, where people with complex intra-family ties lived.

These sprawling residential complexes are clustered around numerous temples, shrines, and eventual markets, the architectural density of which makes Calakmul one of the largest cities in the Americas around 700 AD.

The researchers were surprised by the scale and complexity of urban development revealed in the aerial imagery: “The scale of the landscape modification may have matched the scale of the urban population, as all available land was covered by water channels, terraces, walls and dams, allowing for maximum food security and enough water for city residents.

Lidar found the ancient capital of the Serpent Kingdom in the jungle 2
Calakmul Center

The new data is consistent with what we can extract from deciphered sources and earlier archaeological finds.

According to them, we know that in the first half of the 7th century, Kanul waged war with a neighbor and main rival for hegemony among the Mayan states – the Mutul kingdom. Although the ruler of the Snake State died in this war, Mutul was conquered.

Yuknoom-Ch’een II became the king of Kanul, and under him the kingdom entered the time of its highest prosperity. Hegemony developed: the ruler from the Serpent dynasty could interfere in the appointment of rulers and their policies in other Mayan states. In return, military support was promised if needed.

The Mutul kingdom was extremely dissatisfied with this state of affairs, so the wars practically did not stop. As a result of one of them, in the 730s, the Serpent King died, and the alliance that had developed around his state ceased to exist. His successors never succeeded in restoring their former power.

The latest dating of the building from Calakmul is 909. If in the future people built something on these lands, then archaeologists have not yet reached them.

However, the Spanish missionary, Franciscan monk Diego Lopez de Cogoyudo , who lived in the 17th century, mentions in his work that an Indian tribe lived in those places, calling itself “canul”.


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