(ORDO NEWS) — Water is essential for human survival. But it can also become a deadly poison; Contaminated water can spread deadly diseases that can wipe out entire communities.
Several ancient civilizations, including the Greeks, Egyptians and Romans, filtered water. Methods for purifying water are also mentioned in Sanskrit letters from 2000 BC. Now archaeologists have discovered that the Maya in South America did it too – and their water filtration system was incredibly effective.
In the major Mayan city of Tikal, in the rainforests of what is now Guatemala, archaeologists have discovered zeolite and quartz, minerals that are not native to the area and are effective in removing pollutants such as microbes, heavy metals and nitrogen compounds from water.
So effective, in fact, that both are used today in water filtration systems.
“What’s interesting is that this system is still effective today, and the Maya discovered it more than 2,000 years ago,” said anthropologist Kenneth Barnett Tankersley of the University of Cincinnati.
In particular, zeolite is interesting. It is a natural crystalline compound of silicon and aluminum, linked by common oxygen atoms, forming an open crystal lattice. It has excellent absorption and ion exchange properties, making it very effective in water filtration.
“The filtration system was located behind stone walls, stacked in layers, with zeolites and macrocrystalline quartz crystals the size of a grain of sand, additionally held together by woven petat (woven reed or palm fiber) or other porous material located directly in front of the tank or inside it,” the researchers wrote in his article.
“The ancient Maya lived in a tropical environment and had to be innovators. This is a wonderful discovery, ”said Tankersley.
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