The ancient Mayans ruled over a vast area of the northern part of modern-day Guatemala. From as early as 1800 B.C. it became the leading Mesoamerican civilization, with a population of millions, living within a series of city-states spanning Central America's jungles.
Exceptionally advanced, especially in astronomy and math, the Mayans developed their calendar system and writing form. They were engineers and architects, building vast city complexes, complete with roads, irrigation, reservoir systems, and massive temples, all without metal or heavy equipment, just stone.
Enough evidence, gathered by archeologists and scientists through the years, supports the fact that they were a thriving empire, but despite all of their achievements the civilization mysteriously collapsed around 900AD. There have been many theories - including fan favorite mass Alien abduction - why their culture unexpectedly disappeared.
War, disease, and famine were considered, but no definitive answers have been found - only more questions: What was Mayan society like exactly? Was it simple or complex? Was there a sophisticated class system? How did their network of city-states develop and were there political intrigues at the time?
Traditionally, archeologists rely primarily on working in small dig sites to gather information about this lost civilization. And so far, we've learned quite a lot about them, including their language, science, general way of life and even rituals. However, recent advancements in science and technology will change all of that and finally give us the answers and help us solve the many mysteries the Mayans left behind.
LiDAR (Light Detection And Ranging) technology has arrived, uncovering what is hiding below the thick Guatemalan forests by scanning a specific area with the help of GPS data, satellite images and lasers. It is now possible to take a more in-depth look at the Mayans without having to dig or destroy a patch of jungle or forest haphazardly!
Since 2018, there have been at least 60,000 new Mayan structures in the Guatemalan jungle that have been detected using LiDAR scanning. It's as if the jungle is suddenly spilling all its Mayan related tea, revealing all of its well-kept and long-hidden secrets.
These newly found structures unveil so much more about the Mayans, suggesting that their empire was far greater and more sophisticated than previously known. We now see the full scope of the Mayan civilization. It has even hinted on a possible reason as to why suddenly died out. In time, will more Mayan secrets be revealed? Only time - and hopefully new tech - will tell!
Directed by: Jeremy Zipple