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The hidden scars of the power of the Mayan civilization

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These days ‘In the tall grass‘ premieres, the adaptation of a novel by Stephen King and his son, also the writer Joe Hill on what can be hidden under the leafy fields and dense jungles. In another completely different register, today we have learned of another secret hidden by the treetops.

Under the jungles of Belize, a team of researchers with the help of Lidar have found a huge network of transport channels and fields that occupy more than 14 square kilometers.

What the Mayan civilization was capable of

There are about 1,200 years, at the end of the classical period, the Mayan people extended through southern Mexico, Guatemala and Belize. In about 300 years, the powerful civilization would collapse rapidly. We do not know the reason and we do not know, among other reasons, because the very details of civilization were themselves a mystery.

For example, archaeological remains suggested that the urban agglomerations were enormous. Comparable even to some current cities. And yet there was no evidence that there was a human way to feed all these people. The latter is what we begin to understand today thanks to a new work by PNAS.

According to the work, the evidence was there, hidden from view. And although the channels have been filled with sediments, crystalline appear before Lidar. In the piece of jungle investigated, scientists found 71 kilometers of canals three meters wide, constantly intersecting. Apparently, this dense network of canals connected rivers and facilitated connection with the sea. They were, so to speak, the Caribbean Netherlands.

We are talking about an agricultural and commercial complex of a very considerable size. So much that it has led researchers to reflect on the environmental impact of all this. For years, scientists have suspected that Mayan deforestation was key in its disappearance (its rise, in fact, coincides with the largest increase in methane in pre-industrial times). These data show that this hypothesis is possible.

Changing the weather might not be just a modern curse.

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