In addition to the ancient Maya city of Tikal, archaeologists in Guatemala have uncovered a previously unknown structural complex. But this district did not belong to the Maya, because it seems like a foreign power in the region is flexing its imperial muscles.
Archaeologists have been researching Tikal since the 1950s, however this ancient Mayan city still exists has many stories tell. New research in ancient times describes the discovery of a previously unknown area within walking distance of the famous pyramids of Tikal.
To archaeologists, this discovery is remarkable in and of itself, but what makes it particularly interesting is how structures within this complex resemble buildings found in Teotihuacán. a Mesoamerican city close to modernity Mexico City.
For the first 500 years of the first millennium, Teotihuacán (pronounced tay-oh-tee wah-kan) was the largest and most powerful city in ancient America. In its heyday, the city had a population of over 100,000, as it exerted its economic, cultural and imperialist influence over a wide region. Tikal, a Maya city more than 1,200 km away in what is now Guatemala, was considerably smaller.
The Tikal area Where the Complex was found recently was not yet explored, because archaeologists thought the rolling hills that covered the region were a natural part of the landscape. A research consortium called the Pacunam Lidar Initiative used lidar, a laser-based sensor technology Technology, to create 3D representations of the surface and Recognize structural features.
A ground team led by Guatemalan archaeologist Edwin Román Ramírez then explored the site, which covers approximately 62 hectares. The team found a large and closed district with a pyramid along its east side. Several Small buildings have been found around these structures, including many that are buried deep, such as Stephen Houston, an archaeologist at Brown University and First author of the new study, explained in an email. The lidar “surprised us tremendously,” he wrote, as “very careful maps” had previously overlooked this area.
Proofs for Teotihuacan influence in Tikal has already been discovered, including a stunning sculpture. Contacts between the two companies were common and they have acted often. Mayan elites and scribes even lived in Teotihuacan, but the centuries of peace did not last when Teotihuacan conquered Tikal in AD 378. According to Houston, some archaeologists thought that “the contact between Teotihuacan and the Maya kingdoms was light or only involved facsimile copies,” but the discovery of the new complex indicates “a much more intense, closer level of contact”.
That the structures within this complex were built in the Teotihuacan style, including a small replica of the Ciudadela (the citadel) in Teotihuacan is hard to deny.
“The layout is very similar: an enclosure bordered by buildings on all four sides and a larger building, a pyramid, on the east side,” said Houston. “There are flanking platforms on both sides of this pyramid, all of which – albeit on a reduced scale – resemble the large ones Ciudadela in Teotihuacán. ”To this he added:“ Many incense burners, possibly from Teotihuacán, have been found on the front of the Tikal pyramid. ” while the “orientation of the district is very similar to that of Teotihuacán, in a way that contrasts with the Mayan buildings nearby.”
The team found human too stays close to the replicated Ciudadela. These bodies were surrounded by grave goods such as pottery, animal bones and projectile points. The abundant coal indicates that this accumulation was deliberately set on fire. This apparent death ritual was not performed in the Tikal style but resembles the burials of warriors in the actual citadel in Teotihuacán.
All of this indicates a more intensive interaction between the two societies than previously assumed. The Teotihuacán complex in Tikal implies that more than just trade and cultural exchange was going on – and that something possibly more sinister was happening. The imperial power of Teotihuacán, it seems, was fully developed in Tikal.
Tikal was conquered and in 378 AD Houston suspects that the Teotihuacán complex was built around this time or a little later, “at least according to the evidence,” he said. The complex could have served a similar purpose as a modern embassy or as a strong symbol to express conquest and to remind of foreign occupation. It is possible that warriors, nobles and diplomats from Teotihuacán lived there.
Regardless, “the discovery suggests that portions of foreign cities could be replicated in Mayan cities,” Houston said. The level of replication observed in Tikal was “unexpected” and the new discovery “will lead to a much more detailed study of this part of Tikal”. Additionally, “it redefines the way people see urban growth as it suggests” a high level of planning and intervention by few numbers, “said Houston.
Much remains to be done at the Teotihuacán complex in Tikal. The team wants to examine the bones of the human remains to determine where these people came from and continue the excavations on site. Incredible the story of these fascinating societies continue to emerge.
More: Archaeologists See Ancient Teotihuacán Using Aerial Mapping Tech.
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