Archaeologists Discover Massive Lost Civilization in Guatemala

A recent survey found nearly 1,000 Maya settlements with pyramids and ball courts that are more than 2,000 years old.

According to a new study, archaeologists discovered the ruins of a vast ancient Maya civilization that flourished more than 2,000 years ago in northern Guatemala. This long-forgotten urban web included nearly 1,000 settlements spread across 650 square miles, linked by a massive causeway system mapped out with airborne laser instruments known as LiDAR.

According to a study published this December in the journal Cambridge Core, the results of the LiDAR survey “unveiled a remarkable density of Maya sites” in Guatemala’s Mirador-Calakmul Karst Basin (MCKB), which “challenges the old notion of sparse early human occupation” in this area during the “Preclassical” period spanning 1,000 BC to 150 AD.

Researchers working under the direction of Richard Hansen, an archaeologist at Idaho State University and the director of the Mirador Basin Project, provide “an introduction to one of the largest, contiguous, regional LiDAR studies published to date in the Maya Lowlands,” which includes parts of Mexico, Guatemala, and Belize.

The LiDAR survey revealed an extraordinary density and distribution of Maya sites concentrated in the MCKB, many of them linked directly or indirectly by a vast causeway network” that includes 110 miles of raised roads. They noted that the sprawling civilization hints at “labor investments that defy organizational capabilities of lesser polities and potentially portray the strategies of governance in the Preclassic period.

LiDAR is a form of remote sensing that uses lasers to bounce off of objects to create detailed maps based on how long it takes for the pulses to return to a receiver. This technique has revolutionized many fields, including archaeology, because it can uncover evidence of past human activity that may be hidden by thick vegetation—a problem that Maya researchers frequently face—or that is otherwise invisible to traditional fieldwork on the ground.

In order to look for hidden signs of ancient settlements, Hansen and his colleagues flew airborne LiDAR devices over the MCKB for years at an altitude of about 2,000 feet. They were ecstatic to find “dense concentrations of new and previously undiscovered contemporaneous sites,” including “massive platform and pyramid constructions,” that point to the existence of the civilization.

Numerous ballcourts for Mesoamerican sports as well as a sophisticated system of canals and reservoirs for managing water are included in these constructions. The team also looked into the 230-foot-tall Danta pyramid, which was once the center of several causeways and a major tourist destination in the Maya metropolis of El Mirador.

The entire building may have required 6,000,000 to 10,000,000 person-days of labor, depending on the natural configurations of the bedrock beneath the structure. This amount of labor exceeds the capacity of polities with lower hierarchical political and economic status, and suggests a high level of organization as the sociopolitical and economic patron of such prodigious growth.

The astounding new find provides insight into the people who inhabited the thriving cities of this forested basin for more than a thousand years. Hansen and his team are hopeful that ongoing research will help to uncover the mysteries of this long-gone civilization and possibly unearth brand-new settlements that have lain dormant for many years.

The Mirador-Calakmul Karst Basin contains the tantalizing remains of the ancient kingdom-political state’s and economic framework from the Middle and Late Preclassic periods.

[Bishleshon Team History first read about it on and they rewrite the article. Thanks to for publishing such an article.]

Related Articles


Digital Bangladesh vs Smart Bangladesh: Understanding the Difference and Implications

The world is rapidly changing, and so are the ways of doing things. Bangladesh has been on a journey of digitization and...

Smart Bangladesh: Definition, Building Blocks, Advantages, Challenges of Smart Bangladesh and Road Ahead for It

Smart Bangladesh is a term used by the Bangladesh Government  to mean the power of technology and innovation to improve the quality of life of the country's citizens, enhance economic growth, and protect the environment.

Why should you study history?

To study history is to study change: historians are experts in examining and interpreting human identities and transformations of societies and civilizations...

Bisht— a symbol of Arab identity

A bisht is a traditional men’s cloak popular in the Arab world, and worn in general for thousands of years. According to...

Bisht in Arabian Culture— A Symbol Elegance and Tradition

Arabian culture is rich in history and traditions, with many symbols that represent its unique heritage. One of these symbols is the...

Why 24 Spokes in Indian Flag: Significance of Ashoka Chakra

India's national flag is one of the most recognizable symbols of the country. The flag features three horizontal stripes of saffron, white,...

Tribes of Arabia in Arabian Peninsula and their history

The Tribes of Arabia (قبائل الجزيرة العربية) are the ethnic Arab tribes and clans that originated in the Arabian Peninsula. The tribes...
Must Read

The BRICS Currency: A New Global Reserve Currency?

The BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) are emerging economic powerhouses that are increasingly challenging the dominance of the...

The Vital Role of Medical ID Bracelets and How They Work

In emergency situations, every second counts, and access to crucial medical information can make a life-saving difference. Medical ID bracelets have emerged...

World Champion Football Team Argentina Partners with bKash Limited of Bangladesh

On 8th May 2023, the Argentine Football Association (AFA) and bKash Limited (bKash), the largest Mobile Financial Services provider in Bangladesh, announced...

Exploring Meadowville Technology Park – A Hub of Innovation and Progress

Meadowville Technology Park is a thriving hub of innovation and technology in Virginia, the United States of America. The park covers an...

Shiv Sena Leader Sanjay Raut Questions Pulwama Attack, Demands Sedition Case Against BJP

According to Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray) leader Sanjay Raut, former Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik has revealed an "explosive...


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here