More than 1,000 years ago, the Maya created a network of superhighways.

In Guatemala, near the Mexican border, ancient Maya roads of more than 240 kilometers in length have been rediscovered.

El Mirador is a late Maya preclassic city in Guatemala's Petén jungle, and it was discovered recently that this ancient civilisation built the world's first network of super highways there.


This was concluded as part of the “Cuenca Mirador” archaeological study, in which scientists studied almost 700 square kilometers of land. Furthermore, Richard Hansen, the program's director, stated that this is a one-of-a-kind study in Mesoamerica.

El Mirador, also known as the “Kan” Kingdom, is believed to encompass an area of 2,158 square kilometers within the Maya Biosphere Reserve and is also one of the most significant environmental lungs in the entire American Continent.

As a result of this research, it has been discovered that Guatemala has the distinction of being the cradle of the Maya civilisation, as well as having the highest pyramids and the aforementioned unique road.

Experts uncovered cities, pyramids, terraces, canals, walls, and a network of 17 freight roads stretching over 240 kilometers and measuring 40 meters wide.

lidar imaging mayan super highways

The study used a high-precision radar called LIDAR, which scans the ground with a laser that can penetrate the vegetation at a pace of 560,000 points per second, allowing the identification of unique archaeological features using 2D and 3D photographs.

According to Hansen, this was the first state in the Americas, and it may have been the largest in the world at the time, both in terms of size and population, with at least 1 million people living there before it collapsed around 150 BC.

Tikal is currently the largest excavation site in America, containing some of the most magnificent Mayan civilization archaeological remains. In 1955, it was named a national park, and in 1979, Unesco listed it as a World Heritage Site. El Mirador, on the other hand, contains larger cities than Tikal, however they are still uncovered.

The research will continue in order to understand more about this fascinating culture within this great city, and Hansen is pushing the governments of Guatemala and Mexico to support the area's protection and promotion of sustainable tourism as far as "El Mirador" extends.

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