Ancient Mayan city that was 'impossible to find' discovered in jungle
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The incredible discovery of an ancient Mayan city which used to be 'impossible' to find is changing the way people understand how humans of past civilisations lived.
They might not have been great about predicting when the world was going to end but you've got to hand it to the Mayans who built some incredible structures.
Impressively tall pyramids of stone erected thousands of years ago, and still standing landmarks of a rich civilisation and culture with millions of people, it's a mystery that it suddenly collapsed.
We don't know exactly why the Mayans largely disappeared, but at some time between the years 850 to 1,000, their civilisation declined and collapsed.
While they weren't entirely wiped out and there are descendants of the Mayan people still living today, it's one of history's greatest mysteries, though we've recently learned more about them thanks to the discovery of one of their ancient cities.
Or rather, it's a series of about 400 interconnected settlements with some built as far back as 3,000 years ago, and there are roads between them linking it all together.
Archaeologists have discovered 417 settlements built by the Mayans and connected by about 110 miles worth of roads, which was been described as 'the first freeway system in the world'.
The authors of a study of this amazing discovery told the Washington Post this ancient interconnected city was built in about 1,000 BC, and unlocks 'a whole volume of human history that we've never known before'.
Richard Hansen, professor of archaeology at Idaho State University, said the findings were a 'game changer', while archaeologist Enrique Hernández of San Carlos University, said the discovery could be as significant to our understanding of history as the pyramids in Egypt.
Hernández has spent months every year for the past 20 years excavating El Mirador and this new ancient city was only found after advancements in technology allowed researchers to more accurately sweep the jungle.
Lidar (light detection and ranging) technology is what allowed them to see the full scale of the ancient city, and realise that they were looking at incredibly sophisticated interconnected settlements, with an impressive road system keeping it all together.
Now they have a much clearer idea of what's there, researchers can make more accurate trips to the ancient city and learn so much more, though with 417 places to visit they're going to have a lot of work to get through.