Finding Ruins of Maya Cities Illustration

Maya Empire for Kids
Finding Ruins
of Maya Cities

Although the ancient Maya built their cities long ago, they were such good builders that the ruins of their cities remain today in Central America. The problem is finding them.

The Maya built their cities deep in the jungles and swamps. You cannot look for these ruins by air, because the dense jungle hides everything in a tangle of trees and vines. They have to hunt on foot.  All work stops from September to May, because of the rain. Itís just too wet to conduct a dig. They can hunt from May to August. However, the temperature is very hot. Besides the weather, and the dense tangle of trees and vines, the rainforest jungle has unfriendly natives, poisonous snakes, dangerous spiders, quicksand pits, and all kinds of nasty things.

In spite of the difficulties, some archaeologists are willing to brave the dangers of the rain forest to learn more about the mysterious Maya Indians.

Three years ago, things got very exciting for these brave archaeologists. New technology is helping to discover hidden ruins of ancient Maya cities, cities that are 1,500 years old. With this new technology, and with what they have learned so far, archaeologists now believe the ancient Maya civilization at its peak about 1,500 years ago had a population of around five million people and covered a much wider area than they originally thought. They've found forts and moats and remains of homes in swamps that they believed were uninhabitable. Using this new technology, they have found about 60,000 ruins, some of which are platforms that once held a home.

It's looking ever more likely that the ancient Maya Empire was an enormous civilization, highly advanced, with hundreds of cities connected by a well constructed network of roads through the jungle. Who knows what they'll find next. It's a fascinating time for archaeologists and historians of the ancient Maya culture in Mesoamerica.

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