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Ancient History

Hidden Mayan City of 10 Million People Discovered by Researchers in Guatemala

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The Earth is so vast, archaeologists are still finding remnants of lost civilizations. Most recently, researchers discovered a Mayan city, hidden in the Guatemalan jungle, which is estimated to have been home to approximately 10 million citizens.

The Guardian reports that the researchers used a high-tech aerial mapping technique to find tens of thousands of hidden structures. They include Mayan houses, buildings, defense works, pyramids, an industrial-sized agricultural field and irrigation canals. At least four major Mayan ceremonial centers with plazas were also detected by the mapping technique.

News of the lost city, which was hidden in the jungle of Guatemala’s Peten region, was announced on Thursday by an alliance of US, European and Guatemalan archeologists who have been working in conjunction with Guatemala’s Mayan Heritage and Nature Foundation.

Credit: The Guardian

To supply the 10 million Mayan residents, massive food production would have been essential. Marcello A Canuto, a professor of anthropology at Tulane University, commented on this when he said, “That is two to three times more [inhabitants] than people were saying there were.”

The mapping technique is called Lidar, which stands for light detection and ranging. Contours hidden by dense foliage are found as the technology bounces pulsed laser light off the ground. The resulting images revealed that the Mayans altered the landscape in a drastic way. In some areas, 95 percent of the land was cultivated.

Said Francisco Estrada-Belli, a research assistant professor at Tulane University, “Their agriculture is much more intensive and therefore sustainable than we thought, and they were cultivating every inch of the land.” Estrada-Belli added that the ancient Mayas partly drained swampy road that hasn’t been farmed since.

Researchers suggest the civilization had a highly organized workforce. They predicted this based on the extensive defensive fences, ditch-and-rampart systems, and the constructed irrigation canals.

This unprocessed image of the jungle reveals the groundworks and buildings beneath the dense foliage. Credit: Depositphotos

As The Guardian reports, the mapping — which revealed 810 square miles (or 2,100 square kilometers) of hidden civilization — expands the area that was intensively occupied by the Maya. The culture flourished between roughly 1,000 BC and 900 AD. Many descendants still inhabit the region.

Thomas Garrison, assistant professor of anthropology at Ithaca College in New York, used the Lidar data to look for one of the roads.

“I found it, but if I had not had the Lidar and known that that’s what it was, I would have walked right over it, because of how dense the jungle is.”

Tikal. The ancient ruins are located in the rainforests of Guatemala. Credit: DepositPhotos

Garrison noted that the jungle grew over the abandoned Maya field and structures, rather than destroyed them. This is unlike some other ancient cities, whose fields, roads and outbuildings have been all but destroyed by the elements.

“The jungle, which has hindered us in our discovery efforts for so long, has actually worked as this great preservative tool of the impact the culture had across the landscape,” noted Garrison. The assistant professor says the finding “can’t be called anything other than a Maya fortress.”

To the researchers’ surprise, the structures were hiding in plain sight. “As soon as we saw this we all felt a little sheepish,” said Canuto, “because these were things that we had been walking over all the time.” 

What else might be discovered with the Lidar technology? Only time will tell!


h/t The Guardian

Ancient History

Megalodon Fossils Show How Biggest-Ever Shark Had Nurseries All Over the World

Elias Marat

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The massive megalodon, the largest shark to ever roam the seas, had their own nursery areas all over the globe that allowed the apex predators to raise their young and populate the world prior to their extinction.

A new study, published in the Royal Society journal Biology Letters, reveals that nurseries belonging to the massive creatures have been found in across vast geographic distances where fossils belonging to both young and old megalodons were discovered.

The five likely nurseries include sites off Spain’s east coast, two off the coast of the United States, and two in Panama.

Megalodon (Otodus megalodon), whose name means “large tooth,” lived between 23 million and 3.6 million years ago until it went extinct during a period of global cooling. For 13 million years, the megalodon was the king of the sea.

The megalodon was not only the largest shark in the world, but also the biggest fish – and quite possibly the most powerful predator – to ever exist. Its teeth alone measured 18 centimeters long, and evidence shows that it could have grown to reach up to 60 feet in length.

However, because megalodon bodies were mostly comprised of cartilage – which cannot fossilize – the shark’s teeth, vertebrae and fossilized feces have been the main way researchers have calculated the shark’s body measurements.

The existence of the nurseries shows that young megalodon were still quite susceptible to attacks by other predators.

To keep the young megalodon safe, their shark parents would give birth to their young in shallow, warm water nurseries located near coastlines. In these special regions, juvenile megalodon were able to access their prey while facing few dangers from rival predators.

“Our analyses support the presence of five potential nurseries ranging from the Langhian (middle Miocene) to the Zanclean (Pliocene), with higher densities of individuals with estimated body lengths within the typical range of neonates and young juveniles,” the scientists wrote in the abstract for the study.

“These results reveal, for the first time, that nursery areas were commonly used by O. megalodon over large temporal and spatial scales, reducing early mortality and playing a key role in maintaining viable adult populations,” the authors added.

The nurseries were ideal sites that allowed young megalodons to mature into adults in a process that took about 25 years.

Experts investigated 25 teeth belonging to megalodon that were found in the Reverté and Vidal regions in Tarragona, Spain. The study led to the conclusion that these locations were filled with sharks that had body lengths consistent with the normal range of newborns and young juveniles, measuring 13 feet in length for one-month-old sharks to 36 feet in length for older juveniles.

A separate study released in September found that a 52.5-foot-long adult megalodon had heads that measure up to 15.3 feet long, with dorsal fins measuring about 5.3 feet tall and tails reaching 12.6 feet. To put this into perspective, an adult human could stand on a shark’s back and be roughly the same height as the dorsal fin.

The study’s findings also reveal that the shark’s reliance on nurseries likely played a role in their demise, when the world cooled near the end of the Pliocene period and sea levels declined.

“Ultimately, the presumed reliance of O. megalodon on the presence of suitable nursery grounds might have also been determinant in the demise of this iconic top predatory shark,” the authors of the study noted.

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59 ancient coffins, buried for 2,600 years, discovered in incredible archaeological find in Egypt

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(TMU) – 59 well-preserved and sealed wooden coffins were recently discovered by archeologists in Egypt, and it is possible that there could be even more waiting to be discovered.

Three weeks ago researchers first announced that they found 13 coffins, and then further searches in the area revealed that there were even more. Scientists estimate that the coffins were buried over 2,500 years ago, and some of the remains were wrapped in burial cloth that showed hieroglyphic inscriptions.

The discovery was made in the burial ground of Saqqara, which is located just south of Cairo, near the 4,700-year-old pyramid of Djoser.

“We are very happy about this discovery,” said Mostafa Waziri, secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities in the Egyptian government.

Tourism and Antiquities Minister Khaled al-Anani said that the coffins can be dated back to the Late Period of ancient Egypt, which is estimated to be from the sixth or seventh century BC.

“I have witnessed the opening of one of the coffins … the mummy seems as if it was mummified yesterday,” al-Anani said, according to Aljazeera.

Other artifacts have been discovered as well, including a bronze figurine depicting Nefertem, an ancient god of the lotus blossom, as well as mummified animals like snakes, birds, scarab beetles. Dozens of statues were also found in the same area that the coffins were discovered.

It is suspected that the coffins belonged to high ranking figures in ancient Egyptian society, likely from the 26th dynasty.

The coffins will be taken to the Grand Egyptian Museum on the Giza Plateau, which is currently being built. The museum is expected to open soon, but the opening has already been delayed several times. At this point, the most recent opening date for the museum is planned for 2021.

The museum will feature an entire hall dedicated to the sarcophagi that were found in the region, and this hall will reportedly hold the new discoveries.

Saqqara, where the discovery was made features numerous pyramids, including the world-famous Step pyramid of Djoser, which is sometimes called the Step Tomb due to its rectangular base, as well as a number of mastaba tombs.

Saqqara and the surrounding areas of Abusir and Dahshur suffered damage by looters during the 2011 Egyptian protests. Storerooms were broken into, but the monuments were mostly unharmed. A series of discoveries have been made at the site in recent years. Some findings have been dated back to as far as 4,000 years ago.

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Ancient History

What Artists From Over 100 Years Ago Thought The Year 2000 Would Look Like

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(TMU) – Art from the past is fascinating, from the most basic rock art, to the most detailed and realistic, the bizarre, the fantastical, the surreal and the futuristic, art provides us with insight into cultures and history. Visual records of the lives, struggles, triumphs and beliefs during the evolution of human kind.

Throughout our evolution, there has always been forward thinkers, those who could envisage a very different future, such as Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519), best known as an artist, he was also an architect, scientist and inventor with the vision and imagination to create, on paper, inventions such as the bicycle, the helicopter and an airplane.

Perhaps da Vinci innovative ideas inspired artists through the centuries that followed, such as those created by French Jean-Marc Cote and others in 1899, 1900, 1901 and 1910 who were asked to imagine what life would be like in the year 2020. The futuristic images they created were originally in the form of postcards or cards enclosed in cigarette boxes.

These pictures were created before the second industrial revolution and high tech machinery and flying machines. Life was much simpler, food was still grown organically and the world still had clean air, rivers and oceans. Many of the illustrations turned out to be quite accurate, such as machines for farming, robotic equipment, flying machines, underwater breathing apparatus, and sadly, weapons of war. The buildings, clothing and hairstyles seemed to remain in the previous century.

Over 100 years have passed and some of those artists may have lived to see some of their ideas become reality. Unfortunately the third revolution brought with it innovations that propelled the modern human into an easier, faster lifestyle for those who could afford it. Machines and appliances do the work, in the home and workplace. Motor cars, appliances, pre-packed food, fast food and waste, so much waste! With not a thought of the consequences. Our air and water polluted by chemicals, of rivers and oceans choked by our single use waste and not just our planet, but our health suffering under the strain.

How would we, and the artists of our world depict life on earth in 2099, 2100, 2101 and 2110?

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