A lidar survey show that the whole of this ceremonial center, which stretches about 1.2 miles (2 kilometers) along a limestone ridge overlooking Laguna I Naab (white area), the sampling site for the paleoenvironmental study of the Maya.
Francisco Estrada-Belli, PACUNAM & Tulane University)
A hieroglyphic inscription found in an ancient Mayan city, now the kingdoms of this civilization, to be conducted extremely destructive war much earlier than previously thought, a new study finds.
These findings may shed light on what may or may not have brought about the end of the Maya empire, scientists have said.
The Mayan civilization covered an area twice the size of Germany, and the occupation of what is now southern Mexico and northern Central America. At the height of the Mayan empire, known as the Classic period, which extended from about A. D. 250 to at least 900, possibly as many as 25 million people live in the area, may rival the population of medieval Europe. [7 Bizarre Cultures In The History Of The Forgotten]
Mysteriously, this ancient Maya, the Golden age collapsed, and more than a thousand years ago. The population declined catastrophically to a fraction of its original size. The ruins of the great cities are now largely overgrown by the jungle.
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Scientists have proposed a number of possible causes for the end of the Classical period, none of which are mutually exclusive. Drought may have led to a critical shortage of water. Deforestation linked with farming could lead to the loss of fertile top soil through erosion.
In a further escalation of the violence may also play a significant role in the Maya collapse. Previous research has suggested that during the Classic period, the war of the ancient Maya, it was mostly ceremonial and limited in scope, with strict rules of engagement, focuses on the acquisition of the elite of the elite prisoners, tribute, and ransom, and with a minimal involvement from his father. However, archaeologists have unearthed evidence that the ancient Maya at the end of the Classical period, from exercising the extraordinary and destructive tactics of all-out war, where both civilian and military means, were targeted, sometimes resulting in the widespread destruction of towns and cities. [7 Technologies That Transformed Warfare]
“At the termination of the events, the cities were completely destroyed, and the royal families were to be removed and sometimes thrown into pits or buried in one of the many ceremonial centers,” the study’s lead author, David Wahl, a research geographer with the U.s. Geological Survey in Menlo Park, Calif., told LiveScience.
Now, scientists believe that the ancient Maya may have engaged in this kind of all-out war much earlier than was previously thought.
“What We have now, for the first time, a picture of the broader impact of the Classic period of the Maya to attack,” Wahl said. “We have seen that the tactics had a negative impact on the local population in a manner that is, in this case, in the course of the settlement of the town was changed forever.”
The researchers made their discovery during the investigation of the past environmental changes around the site of the Witzna in the Peten region of Guatemala, which includes the northern third of the country.
“The biggest challenge in this research — indeed, most of the work I’ve done in the Peten, the remoteness of the field site,” Wahl said. “There are no roads leading to it, you will have all the equipment and supplies are carried out in a steep, 100-m [330 ft] of the slope. The lake is surrounded by sawgrass — sedges with edges as sharp as they sound, and it took a crew of about eight people for three days, all the way to the sedges and the construction of a pier to access the water. This involved standing in chest-deep water, swinging machetes to clear a path. Once we reached the open water, we were all pretty scared to see at least a dozen of you lingering on carefully reviewing our operations.”
The scientists unexpectedly discovered a stela, or stone columns, with plain emblem glyph — a hieroglyphic inscription, was dedicated to the lord. It turned out to be the site of a Mayan name, Bahlam Boat, in addition to the usual symbols of the rule, and the scepter of the lightning god-K awiil and it is a sign of a bound prisoner.
At Naranjo, a Classic Maya city in a 20-mile (32 km) to the south of the Witzna, before work, and had to find a different stela. The inscription on it stated that, in 697, Bahlam Boat was attacked and burned to the ground a second time. In the lake deposits, in addition to Witzna, Wahl and his colleagues discovered that of the 1.2 inch (3 cm) layer of charcoal and, as a result of a huge fire, the largest in the 1700’s of years worth of sediment, and they looked up to. Carbon dating of seeds in this layer of charcoal, it is proposed that the fire took place in the last decade of the seventh century bc, with the support of the Naranjo stela, the inscription on it.
The razing of all major structures in the Witzna, including the royal palace and the monuments are inscribed with characters to support the idea of this site and experienced great destruction. In addition, Wahl and colleagues found that, prior to the end of the seventh century, the deposits showed signs of human activity such as agriculture, waste and the remains of the fire, but it declined dramatically after the alleged attack.
Even though the destruction on the Witzna is reminiscent of that seen at the end of the Classical period, there were some differences. “You’ll see, the persistence of the royal lineage, after the attack, while during the Terminal Classic, the royal family has been killed or removed,” Wahl said. “But in the Witzna, the city has been wiped out, as you can see in the Terminal Classic.”
The “puluuy,” which has been used for the description of the burning of Bahlam Gig, and was previously seen at other Maya sites. This suggests that these fires may have been more common in ancient Maya warfare than in the past, the researchers said.
All in all, these findings suggest that such a destructive total warfare as it was practiced, even during the height of the ancient Maya, prosperity, and artistic refinement and challenging of theories suggest that what is unique about the final days of the Mayan civilization. As such, it might be played less of a role in the collapse of the Mayan empire, is above and beyond what was previously imagined.
“I think that, on the basis of this evidence, the theory is that a perceived shift in the entire war was a major factor in the collapse of Classic Maya society, it is no longer viable. We have to look for other causes,” study co-author Francisco Estrada-Belli of Tulane University in New Orleans, said in a statement.
The scientists detailed their findings online Aug. 5 in the journal Nature on Human Behavior.
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Originally published on Live Science.