Guatemala City, Jan 16 (EFE).- A total of 964 pre-Hispanic settlements of the Mayan civilization were discovered beneath the tropical forest of Petén, in northern Guatemala, during a research project that began in 2015, a group of scientists who participated in the initiative said Monday.
“We found a surprising number of ceremonial centers, cities and farming systems where the Maya lived for more than a thousand years,” archaeologist Carlos Morales, of the University of Austin in Texas, said at a press conference.
During the project, the team flew over 1,000 kilometers (621 miles) of the jungle area called Cuenca del Mirador, located in the Petén department in the extreme north of Guatemala, on the border with Campeche in Mexico.
“The recordings were possible thanks to the use of Lidar technology, which are remote sensors that measure the distance between an transmitter and a object with laser light,” Morales added, explaining that the technology allowed the scientists to observe the structures located under the earth.
In total, 775 ancient Maya settlements and more than 189 sites, including cities, towns and villages, were discovered in the area surrounding the basin.
American archaeologist Richard Hasen, who led the project, called it a “historic” discovery for Guatemala and the world.
The researchers said that the pyramids detected during the project were still being counted and that the discovery served to show the major political and economic expansion of the Mayans in the region, thereby leading to the foundation one of the first states of the continent.
The Mayan civilization inhabited the north of the territory that now belongs to Guatemala, located 500 kilometers from present-day Guatemala City.
Records of the Mayan culture date back to 1800 BC, according to researchers. EFE