Toronto – Despite the ruins of Tikal being one of the most studied archeological sites in the world, archaeologists have recently uncovered a hidden neighborhood near the ancient Maya city.

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Experts have been excavating the areas of Tikal in modern Guatemala since the 1950s, but the new discovery leaves Mesoamerican scholars questioning whether they know the ancient city as they previously thought.

Using light detection and ranging software known as lidar, scientists from a research consortium called the Pacunum Lidar Initiative were able to find neighborhoods of those ruined buildings in Teotihuacan, the largest and most powerful city in ancient America, just one A short walk to the east from Tikal’s city center.


After several decades documenting the details of every structure and excavated object in Tikal, it was long believed that the neighborhood was an area of ​​natural hills.

The findings were published on Tuesday magazine in antiquity.

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The lidar analysis was led by Stephen Houston, a professor of anthropology at Brown University and Thomas Garrison, an assistant professor of geography at the University of Texas, and was subsequently excavated by a team of Guatemalan archaeologists.

Houston said in a press release that the findings have inspired new insights on Teotihuacan’s impact 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 previously thought.”

Houston said that Tikal and Teotihuacan were two different cities. Tikal was sparsely populated but smaller in scale, while Teotihuacan, which is in modern-day Mexico, was a kingdom.

Although little is known about the people who founded and ruled Teotihuacan, researchers have found that their influence extends far beyond their city walls. Like the Romans, there is evidence that the Teotihuacan people shaped and colonized many communities throughout the Americas.

Houston said anthropologists have known for some time that residents of the two cities were in contact and often traded with each other, centuries before the Teotihuacans conquered Tikal around the year 378 AD.

According to the study, there is also specimen evidence that suggests Maya aristocrats and scribes lived in Teotihuacan between the 2nd and 6th centuries AD and brought elements of the empire’s culture, including its funerary rituals, slope-and-panel architecture. Shelly and green obsidian included. Back to Tikal.

However, the latest lidar analysis and excavations show that the imperial did much more than trade and culturally influence with the small city of Tikal.

Houston said the architectural complex he found “too much” appears to have been built for the people of Teotihuacan or those in control of the empire.

“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 was in a foreign city.” An attempt to implant the part shows the plan on Tikal,” he said in the release.

According to the study, the structures were designed to be small replicas of the buildings that make up Teotihuacan’s citadel, including its intricate cornices and terraces, as well as the typical 15.5-degree east-north-north orientation of the complex’s platforms. Are included.

Excavations confirmed that some of the new buildings were constructed from clay plaster instead of the traditional Maya limestone.

“It almost suggests that local builders were asked to use entirely non-local building technology when building this massive new building complex,” Houston said.

“We have rarely seen evidence of two-way interactions between two civilizations, but here, we are seeing foreigners who are moving aggressively into the region,” he said.

Archaeologists also uncovered projectile points crafted from flint, a material commonly used by the Maya, and green obsidian, a material used by Teotihuacans in an adjacent complex of residential buildings, suggesting conflict. Is.

In addition, archaeologists recovered the remains of a body surrounded by ships, ceramic fragments, animal bones and projectile points near the replica citadel. The study said the site was covered with charcoal, suggesting it was set on fire.

Houston said in the press release that the discovery shows “slight resemblance” to other burials or sacrifices at Tikal, but “strikingly similar” to the remains of warriors found at Teotihuacan years ago.

“Excavations in the middle of the citadel at Teotihuacan have found burials of many individuals dressed as warriors, and they seem to have been sacrificed and placed in mass graves,” he said. “We probably found the remains of one of those tombs in Tikal itself.”

Despite finding the first lost neighborhood, Houston says there is still much to uncover and analyze, including human remains, which will be studied to determine their origins and Teotihuacan’s relationship with Tikal. Can reveal more.

Houston said he hopes further excavations will help researchers better understand Teotihuacan’s presence in Tikal, as well as how its imperial power changed the cultural and political landscape in Mesoamerica.

“Prior to the European colonization of the Americas, empires and empires of unequal influence and strength were interacting with smaller civilizations in a way that left a major impact,” Houston said. “Exploring Teotihuacan’s influence on Mesoamerica may be one way to trace the beginning of colonialism and its oppression and local collusion.”