15 million people lived in ancient Maya, reveals new laser study showing clusters of 60,000 homes buried underground
A laser survey of 2,100 square kilometres of Guatemala’s jungles uncovered the hidden ruins of a complex and advanced Maya civilization that used a network of roads to connect more than 60,000 homes, temples and a fortress.
A group of archeologists and researchers studying ancient Maya used LIDAR technology to reveal the secrets of the civilization hidden within the thick jungle canopy.
Flying above the jungle in a plane, the group used the technology to bounce thousands of pulsing lasers toward the jungle vegetation and the ground. When they hit an object, the laser beams reflect back and begin to map the area. It took two weeks for the plane to map out the region in July 2016, but it was only in January 2017 that Ithaca College archeologist Thomas Garrison was finally able to see the images.
“From the first glimpses, we knew we were dealing with things that would change our field in a drastic way,” Garrison said.
For years, archeologists studying the Maya were plagued by not having a “clean picture” of the civilization. Now, Garrison said, that picture is complete and the results have led some to argue the Maya was more sophisticated than Europe or China 1,200 years ago.
Imagine that: there was a civilization comparably advanced to those in the Old World back around 1000 AD— possibly more advanced in many ways— and we'll never know anything deeper about them than physical artifacts because the conquistadors burned all their written texts. There were probably many such civilizations. Ancient Maya wasn't so ancient in the end— I've heard some say that the Mayans and Aztecs were comparable to 1000 BC Mesopotamia, essentially 2,000 years behind Eurasia. Here we find that they were relatively equal. Sure, they had few "modern" (for the time) metallurgical methods due to a different environmental evolution of civilization, and yet they still accomplished all this. Imagine the amazing historical events that occurred in the Americas! It almost certainly rivals anything and everything we hear about from Eurasia and Africa.
But again, we'll never know. Not because they never invented written language but because we destroyed it.