In addition to hundreds of previously unknown structures, the LiDAR images show raised highways connecting urban centers and quarries. Complex irrigation and terracing systems supported intensive agriculture capable of feeding masses of workers who dramatically reshaped the landscape.
Already, though, the survey has yielded surprising insights into settlement patterns, inter-urban connectivity, and militarization in the Maya Lowlands. At its peak in the Maya classic period approximately A.
Virtually all the Mayan cities were connected by causeways wide enough to suggest that they were heavily trafficked and used for trade and other forms of regional interaction. These highways were elevated to allow easy passage even during rainy seasons.
In a part of the world where there is usually too much or too little precipitation, the flow of water was meticulously planned and controlled via canals, dikes, and reservoirs. Laser scans revealed more than 60, previously unknown Maya structures that were part of a vast network of cities, fortifications, farms, and highways.
Among the most surprising findings was the ubiquity of defensive walls, ramparts, terraces, and fortresses. Complexes of this type consist of a stepped pyramid main structure, situated on the western side of a quadrilateral plaza or platform. A raised but rather elongated structure appears along the eastern side of the plaza, running north-south; a variation has three smaller temple mounds on top of or replacing this platform, the middle of these substructures placed directly opposite the main structure.
Often, two other subsidiary structures appear on the north and south sides of the plaza, respectively. The main western structure is typically terraced i. The stairways have large balustrades which protrude from the pyramid, which were decorated with large stucco masks and panels of architectural art. In other examples, believed to be of a later date, this quadripartite stairway configuration is lacking. They were first identified as a meaningful complex by archaeologist Frans Blom in , who excavated the site under the auspices of the Carnegie Institution of Washington.
It has been theorized that these E-groups are observatories, because the eponymous group at Uaxactun contains alignments corresponding approximately to sunrises on the solstices and equinoxes.
However, all other E-groups have different orientations, which pertain to widespread groups of astronomical alignments that are also embedded in a number of buildings of other types; hence the term "observatory" applied to these assemblages is hardly warranted. They consist of an elevated platform either an extensive acropolis or a steep pyramid with a monumental stairway, with a central building facing the stairs, and two lateral structures facing each other on both sides of the platform.
This formal complex has been attributed to the earthly re-creation of the Celestial Hearth modern-day constellation of Orion , or a stage for enthronement rituals. Often the most important temples sat atop towering Maya pyramids, some of over two-hundred feet, such as that at El Mirador. The sanctuary on top commonly was heightened by a crest or roof comb. While recent discoveries point toward the extensive use of pyramids as tombs, the temples themselves seem to rarely, if ever, contain burials.
With four stairways, each with 91 steps with the upper platform they sum up to , and having other architectural elements appearing in astronomically significant numbers, it is a good example of Maya myth and astronomical cycles joined in architecture. The setting sun's rays are projected on the northern balustrade, create the illusion of a snake winding its way down the steps of the pyramid. The snake is composed of several triangle shapes giving it the appearance of a diamond back snake.
At the base of the northern stairway there are massive snake head sculptures, making this effect even more persuasive. While it is a widespread belief that this light-and-shadow effect was achieved on purpose to record the equinoxes,   the idea is highly unlikely: it has been shown that the phenomenon can be observed, without major changes, during several weeks around the equinoxes, making impossible to determine any date by observing this effect alone.
Maya architecture is vastly different from the others in Meso-American cultures.
The blend of mythology and astronomical events can be found in nearly all Maya palace or pyramid structures. The Toltecs invaded the Maya and merged their cultural traditions around the year The Maya were keen astronomers and had mapped out the phases of celestial objects, especially the Sun , Venus and the Moon. Many temples have doorways and other features aligning to celestial events. Round temples, often dedicated to Kukulcan , are perhaps those most often described as "observatories" by modern ruin tour-guides.
It is now known, however, that many buildings of different types and uses were oriented on astronomical grounds, mostly to sunrises and sunsets on specific dates. As an integral aspect of the Mesoamerican lifestyle, the courts for their ritual ballgame were constructed throughout the Maya realm, often on a grand scale. The playing alleys of ballcourts were defined by two long walls. Frequently, the ends were enclosed so as to create an -shaped court when viewed from above. When the Maya played games in the Ballcourts, the ball was made of solid rubber and was sometimes as much as a foot in diameter.
It was passed between teams ranged on opposite ends of the court. The players could hit it only with their knees or hips, much like football or soccer today.
Points could be scored when the opponents failed to return the ball correctly. It was considered a particular triumph for a player to knock the ball through the ring. There are also cave sites that are important to the Maya. There are also cave creation myths among the Maya. Some cave sites are still used by the modern Maya in the Chiapas highlands in Mexico. He often traveled to the Yucatan to explore remote Maya sites. His breakthrough revelation in Maya engineering projects was the discovery of the ruins of a Maya suspension bridge over the Usumacinta River at the ancient Maya city of Yaxchilan.
This is the river that divides Mexico from Guatemala and the discovery and proof of the existence of this Maya bridge is the topic of this History Channel production.
Additional investigation revealed other examples of Maya technology that are outstanding examples of engineering achievements that the Maya utilized a thousand years in advance of European technology. His discoveries in Maya technology have been recognized in National Geographic Magazine and the monthly magazine the American Society of Civil Engineers, Civil Engineering, in addition to other scholarly publications.
He has been invited to deliver numerous scientific papers dealing with his discoveries in Maya technology at international scientific and archaeological symposia. His civil engineering education at Georgia Tech and an advanced degree from New York University gave him an excellent background for his professional career which has been devoted to bringing high-tech science to engineering. He is a registered Professional Engineer in over 15 states and has developed new computer techniques for engineering design and new methodologies for investigating distressed structures.
This experience gave him the ability to "reverse engineer" complex distressed buildings and identify the cause of the distress. This same experience has enabled him to discover, dissect, analyze and reconstruct lost Maya technologies. He brought all these special talents to the research and writing of his book, The Lost Secrets of Maya Technology.
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IMDb More. Edit James O'Kon.