Monday, June 24, 2013

Recent rediscoveries

Chactun: In this photo reminiscent of Indiana Jones, a National Institute of Anthropology and History worker gestures toward the remains of a building that once stood in the rain forest of eastern Mexico. The ruins are part of a 54-acre city that was home to as many as 30,000-40,000 people during the late Classic period of Maya civilization between 600 and 900 A.D. They erected monuments, assembled on plazas, played on ball courts, and built 15 pyramids - one of them 75' (22 m) tall (SLIDESHOW HERE). Although there is evidence that the site was visited 20 or 30 years ago, it has been "officially" rediscovered by Mesoamerican archaeologist Ivan Šprajc of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts after examining aerial photographs. He explains, "The whole site is covered by the jungle. Lumberjacks and gum extractors were certainly already there, because we saw cuts on the trees. What happened is they never told anyone."

Mahendraparvata: Meanwhile, in the jungle of northwestern Cambodia, a team has rediscovered a medieval city that was occupied in 800 A.D. and predates the temple of Angkor Wat by 350 years. Hidden for centuries and including temples that have never been looted, the settlement had been divided into regular city blocks. The archaeological team was led by Damian Evans of the University of Sydney and Jean-Baptiste Chevance of the Archaeology and Development Foundation in London, who located the ruins using newly-developed aerial technology. They knew from ancient texts about a mountain capital but explain, "[W]e didn't know how all the dots fitted, exactly how it all came together. We now know from the new data the city was for sure connected by roads, canals, and dykes."


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