(ORDO NEWS) — Two thousand years ago, the ancient Maya built hundreds of settlements and tens of kilometers of roads in the north of modern Guatemala. The existence of this kingdom of the ancient Maya was not previously known.
A group of researchers discovered that two thousand years ago, in the north of Guatemala, there was a large Mayan civilization that has not yet been described by scientists.
To study the terrain, lidars were used – remote laser scanning devices.
In recent years, scientists have often used lidars to study tropical forests. Under the dense vegetation, it is impossible to see the outlines of buildings and other signs of ancient civilizations.
It is all the more impossible to walk through all these vast expanses during expeditions. However, the laser can look under vegetation.
In the course of the new work, the researchers mapped unexplored areas of Guatemalan forests. Lidar for this was installed on an aircraft.
The scientists created 3D models of the scanned area, and they saw at least a thousand settlements covering an area of almost 1,700 km2.
They differed markedly in size and construction, and the authors of the work conditionally divided them into “megacities, cities and villages.” Most of the settlements were connected with each other by bulk “highways”.
This previously unknown “urban agglomeration” is described by researchers as a large ancient Mayan civilization.
The Maya created cleared and raised ramparts, or dams, as “intercity highways”.
The total length of such roads of this civilization was about 117 kilometers! This allowed residents to visit other settlements relatively easily.
The researchers note that the road network would allow representatives of the recently found civilization to work collectively.
Scientists were also able to see that the population density of this “kingdom” was quite high. This discovery contradicts theories suggesting that early Mesoamerican settlements were generally sparsely populated.
Scientists have found evidence that in some settlements there used to be large uninhabited platforms and pyramids.
Some of them, according to the authors of the study, could serve as community centers for work, recreation and political activity.
Ball courts have been found in some settlements. Previous studies have shown that different types of active ball games existed in this region in antiquity.
The researchers also found channels for the movement of water and reservoirs for its storage. People who lived in these places 2,000 years ago could use the accumulated water during periods of drought.
All this suggests that the found settlements were closely connected with each other culturally and politically, that is, they could represent a kind of state.
Researchers plan to learn more about this “lost kingdom” in the near future.
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