Lidar reveals the oldest and biggest Maya structure yet found

Wednesday, June 3, 2020 - 10:00 in Paleontology & Archaeology

Ancient Maya society got off to a monumentally fast start around 3,000 years ago. Excavations and airborne mapping at a previously unknown site in Mexico, called Aguada Fénix, have uncovered the oldest and largest known structure built by Maya people, say archaeologist Takeshi Inomata of the University of Arizona in Tucson and his colleagues. This raised ceremonial area made of clay and earth was constructed from around 1000 B.C. to 800 B.C., the scientists report June 3 in Nature. The new discovery adds to recent evidence that from its very beginnings around 3,000 years ago, the Maya civilization built monumental structures (SN: 4/25/13). A similar but smaller ritual area previously discovered by Inomata’s team at a Maya site in Guatemala called Ceibal dates to 950 B.C. The finds run counter to the idea that Maya society developed gradually from small villages to urban centers with pyramids and other massive buildings, as some scientists have suggested. Those Maya cities and kingdoms of what’s known as the Classic...

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