- The structures in the ancient Mayan city, believed to be natural hills, are actually ruins.
- They were designed to look like those found in the mighty city of Teotihuacen
- Teotihuacan exerted great influence on the ancient Mayan capital of Tikal.
- Scientists have been excavating the ruins of Tikal since the 1950s, documenting the details of every structure and cataloging every item removed from the ground.
The structures in an ancient Mayan city thought to be natural hills are actually the ruins of buildings designed to be found in the mighty city of Teotihuacen.
The newly discovered structures provide ‘game-changing evidence’ that the imperial power of Teotihuacan exerted considerable influence on the ancient Maya capital of Tikal, a team from Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island explained.
Scientists have been excavating the ruins of Tikal since the 1950s, documenting the details of every structure and cataloging every item removed from the ground.
Thanks to these efforts, Tikal has become one of the most well understood and most studied archaeological sites in the world.
Which is why it came as a shock to the researchers to discover entire previously unknown neighborhoods, which were thought to be natural hills.
Using light detection and ranging software, or lidar, they found that the ‘natural hills’ were actually buildings that were modified in the shape of a citadel in Teotihuacan, the largest and most powerful city in ancient America.
Exposed filtered lidar structures and excavations. The structures in an ancient Mayan city regarded as natural hills are actually the ruins of buildings, designed to resemble those found in the mighty city of Teotihuacen.
Teotihuacan: ‘The Place Where Humans Become Gods’
Teotihuacan means ‘the place where humans become gods’.
This place is considered to be a burial place.
The Teotihuacan people worshiped eight deities, and were known to offer human sacrifices.
The ancient city was founded 2,500 years ago and was once one of the largest cities on Earth with over 100,000 inhabitants – only 200 million people live on Earth at the moment.
The city was completely abandoned in 700 AD and little is known about civilization, or what caused the mass exodus.
Stephen Houston, a professor of anthropology at Brown University and Thomas Garrison, an assistant professor of geography at the University of Texas at Austin, made the startling discovery.
The area of natural hills is a short walk from the center of Tikal, and was actually a neighborhood of ruined buildings rather than a natural area.
Lidar analysis, along with subsequent excavations by a team of Guatemalan archaeologists led by Edwin Roman Ramírez, has prompted new insights and larger questions about the impact of Teotihuacan on the Maya civilization.
“What we took as natural hills was actually modified and shown to conform to the shape of the citadel – the area that was probably the royal palace – in Teotihuacan,” Houston said.
‘Who built this small-scale replica and why, it shows without a doubt that there was a different level of interaction between Tikal and Teotihuacan than before.’
Houston said the cities of Tikal and Teotihuacan were fundamentally different regions.
Tikal, a Maya city, was sparsely populated but relatively small in scale – ‘you could go from one end of the kingdom to the other in a day, maybe two’ – while Teotihuacan had all the traces of the empire.
Archaeologists explore the area around the site. Newly discovered structures provide ‘game-changing evidence’ that the imperial power of Teotihuacan exerted considerable influence over the ancient Maya capital Tikal, a team from Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island explained
Although little is known about the people who founded and ruled Teotihuacan, it is clear that, like the Romans, their influence extended far beyond their center.
Evidence shows that they shaped and colonized countless communities hundreds of miles away – through architecture and practices.
Houston said anthropologists have known for decades that residents of the two cities were in contact and often traded with each other for centuries before the Teotihuacans conquered Tikal around the year 378 CE.
There is also ample evidence that between the 2nd and 6th centuries CE, Maya nobles and scribes lived in Teotihuacan.
Some will bring elements of the empire’s culture and materials – including its unique funeral rituals, slope- and paneled architectural styles and green obsidian – back to the home of Tikal.
Overview of the Maya city. Scientists have been excavating the ruins of Tikal since the 1950s, documenting the details of every structure and cataloging every item removed from the ground.
Another Maya expert, David Stuart of UT Austin, translated inscriptions that describe the era when Teotihuacan generals, including a man named Born from Fire, traveled to Tikal and deposed the local Maya king. Gave.
But the research consortium’s latest lidar findings and excavations prove that imperial power in modern-day Mexico did much more than trade with and culturally influence the small city of Tikal before it was conquered.
“The architectural complex we found appears to have been built for Teotihuacans or people under their control,” Houston said.
‘Perhaps it was something like an embassy complex, but when we combine previous research with our latest findings, it suggests something more heavy handed, such as occupation or surveillance.
‘At least, it reflects an attempt to impute part of the planning of a foreign city on Tikal.’
Temple IV in Tikal, which has become one of the most well-understood and most well-studied archaeological sites in the world
Houston said that excavations after lidar work led by Roman Ramirez confirmed that some buildings were…