Maya In the News ...

The Ilopango volcanic eruption that shocked the Maya's civilization 1590 years ago   PhysOrg - September 29, 2020
In 431 CE, 1590 years ago, the Maya civilization was laid waste as the Ilopango volcano erupted, killing every living thing within 40 km around the volcano.

Archaeologists discover 1,000-year-old 'untouched' Maya ritual site containing hundreds of ceramic vessels, burnt offerings, and fragments of bone in Mexican cave   Daily Mail - March 5, 2019

Lost Cave of 'Jaguar God' Rediscovered Below Mayan Ruins - and It's Full of Treasure   Live Science - March 5, 2019
Shimmying through a maze of dark tunnels below the Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza on Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, archaeologists have rediscovered a long-sealed cave brimming with lost treasure. According to an statement from Mexico's National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), the cave is stockpiled with more than 150 artifacts, including incense burners, vases, and decorative plates adorned with the faces of ancient gods and other religious icons. The trove is believed to be just one of seven sacred chambers in a network of tunnels known as Balamku - "Jaguar God" - that sits below Chichen Itza, a city that accommodated millions of people at its peak during the 13th century. The artifacts have likely been untouched by human hands for more than 1,000 years, according to the INAH. Though the treasures were probably deliberately sealed off, the ritual cave, rediscovered in 2018 by archaeologists hunting for a sacred well below the city, has had at least one human visitor in the past millennium, National Geographic reported. The cave was initially discovered in 1966 by archaeologist Víctor Segovia Pinto, who wrote a report about the find, but never excavated before directing local farmers to seal the cavern's entrance for reasons that are still unknown. Segovia's records of the discovery went missing, leaving behind a mystery that would take five decades to solve.

1,500-Year-Old Maya Altar Reveals Amazing Secrets of the 'Snake Kings'   Live Science - September 23, 2018
Archaeologists have discovered a nearly 1,500-year-old carved stone altar in the ancient Maya city of La Corona, deep in the jungles of northern Guatemala. The finding, announced Sept. 12 at the National Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology in Guatemala City, is the oldest monument on record at the La Corona site from the Classic Maya period, which lasted from A.D. 250 to 900, the archaeologists said. An analysis of the carvings on the altar revealed how the powerful Kaanul dynasty started its 200-year rule over much of the Maya lowland

The face of Pacal the Great: Archaeologists unearth rare 7th century mask showing Mayan ruler in his old age   Daily Mail - August 27, 2018

Archaeologists have discovered an ancient stucco mask thought to depict the face of the Mayan ruler ‘Pacal the Great.’ The remarkable 7th century artifact is unlike most such treasures as it represents the king in his old age, with visible wrinkle lines. Pacal ruled from the time he was just 12 years old, until his death at the age of 80. Researchers unearthed the mask during excavations at the Palenque archaeological site in the Mexican jungle.

Scientists find first evidence DOGS were traded among the Mayan civilization 2500 years ago - and the pups were prestigious gifts that people liked to 'show off'   Daily Mail - March 19, 2018
Researchers have found the first evidence of live dogs being traded in the Americas - and they were exchanged over distances of more than 100 miles (160km). The Maya were trading live dogs in 400BC from Ceibal in Guatemala, which is one of the earliest ceremonial sites from the Mesoamerican civilization, researchers found. The bones were largely found in the ceremonial centre meaning the animals were probably owned by someone important or could have even been a prestigious gift. These traded dogs - which were probably slightly bigger than chihuahuas - were older than dogs for eating and were thought to be treated better too.

Team reports first evidence of live-traded dogs for Maya ceremonies   PhysOrg - March 19, 2018

Tuesday February 6, 2018: National Geographic presented a one hour documentary The Lost Treasures of the Maya Snake Kings linked to the story below. An aerial LiDAR Survey of the Guatemalan jungle peels away the Canopy to reveal unknown cities and more than 60,000 man-made structures, confirming Maya Civilization was much larger, and more complex, than previously thought. The documentary once again showed how technology can help archaeologists redefine an ancient civilization fitting together the fragments of the story. I couldn't help viewing the program through the eyes of Ancient Alien theorists and wondering where this will take them. It would be amazing to see this technology used in other areas around the world whose secrets wait to be discovered. Secrets hidden under Antarctica? In sacred caves? And then there's the moon? Time to tell us the truth.

Maya 'megalopolis' featuring thousands of ancient pyramids, palaces and causeways is found hidden under thick jungle foliage in Guatemala   Daily Mail - February 3, 2018
More than 60,000 previously unknown Mayan structures - including pyramids, palaces and causeways - have been revealed under jungle foliage in Guatemala in what has been hailed as a 'major breakthrough'. Researchers used laser technology to look beneath the forest canopy in northern Peten - an area close to already-known Mayan cities. The lasers revealed the 'breathtaking' remains of a sprawling pre-Columbian 'megalopolis' that was far more complex than most specialists had ever believed. The discovery suggests that Central America supported a civilization that was, at its peak 1,500 years ago, more advanced than ancient Greek and Chinese cultures. The landscape may have been home to up to 15 million individuals and the abundance of defensive walls, ramparts and fortresses suggests that warfare was rife throughout their existence and not just at the end.

Maya Underworld: Peek Inside the World's Longest Flooded Cave   Live Science - January 18, 2018
Divers enter the flooded underworld that lies beneath the Yucatan Peninsula. Cave explorers with the Great Maya Aquifer Project announced this week that two cave systems near the city of Tulum are actually one, making the system the longest flooded series of caves in the world.

Ancient palace complex discovered in Mexican Valley of Oaxaca   PhysOrg - March 28, 2017
The Oaxaca Valley near the southern tip of Mexico has been offering up clues of past civilizations for several decades - a team has been working at the El Palenque site in particular since 1993. In this new effort, the researchers focused on a dig on the north end of the plaza - the site of what the researchers believe was the home and business center for the ruler of an ancient empire. The palace has been dated to approximately 2,100 to 2,300 years ago, a time before the Aztecs. Most in the field believe that the civilization that existed in Oaxaca was among the earliest states to come into existence in Mesoamerica. Redmond and Spencer suggest that their findings at the palace site back up that theory.

This ancient text reveals a Maya astronomer calculated the movements of Venus over a millennium ago   Science Alert - August 18, 2016
A new analysis of the ancient Mayan text, the Dresden Codex - the oldest book written in the Americas known to historians - suggests an early Maya scientist may have made a major discovery in astronomy more than a thousand years ago. According to a new study, astronomical data written in part of the text called the Venus Table weren't just based on numerology as had been thought, but were a pioneering form of scientific record-keeping that had huge significance for Maya society. A "mathematical subtlety", which scholars have long known about but considered a numerological oddity, serves as a correction for Venus's irregular cycle, which lasts 583.92 days, just like our own Gregorian calendar incorporates leap years.

Painted Human Jawbones Used as Ancient Jewelry   Live Science - May 18, 2016
Painted human mandibles that may have been worn like necklace pendants have been discovered at a ceremonial site in Mexico that dates back around 1,300 years. In the same ceremonial area, numerous whistles and figurines were also discovered. Made out of ceramic, these objects had been smashed into thousands of fragments, not a single example found intact. The whistles may have made owl-like sounds, archaeologists said. Some of the figurines were sculpted images of Xipe Totec, a Mesoamerican god associated with human sacrifice and agricultural activity. The god was often shown with human bones draped around his neck.

Archaeological Finds in El Salvador Tell a Whole Different Tale about Maya Society   Scientific American - December 23, 2015
Artifacts uncovered by the Ceren dig suggest Maya citizens enjoyed certain freedoms when trading and making societal decisions. For decades scientists thought that, in order to maintain a prosperous and powerful empire along the territories which make up what today is El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Belize and the southwest of Mexico, the Mayan elite must have exerted strict control over the nation's people, customs and economy.

Six Ways Ancient Maya Still Alter the Environment   Epoch Times - September 7, 2015
Activities of the Maya 2,000 years ago in Central America contributed to the decline of their environment. New research finds evidence of their influence on today's environmental conditions, as well. It's the first study to show the full extent of the "Mayacene" as a microcosm of the early Anthropocene - a period when human activity began greatly affecting environmental conditions. The researchers identified six stratigraphic markers - or "golden spikes" - that indicate a time of large-scale change, including:
"Maya clay" rocks;
unique soil sequences;
carbon isotope ratios;
widespread chemical enrichment;
building remains and landscape modifications;
signs of Maya-induced climate change.

'Sacred sinkhole' discovered under 1,000-year-old Mayan temple... and it may eventually destroy the pyramid   Daily Mail - August 17, 2015
It is a towering testament to a long dead civilization and has fascinated archaeologists for more than 150 years, but one of the most famous Mayan pyramids has been hiding a secret beneath its mighty steps. Researchers have discovered an enormous sinkhole beneath the 1,000-year-old Temple of Kukulkan, also known as El Castillo, which dominates the Mayan city of Chichen Itza in the northern Yucatan Peninusula of Mexico. And they fear the underground cavern, or cenote, which has a river running through it, may eventually cause the entire pyramid to collapse if its roof gives way. Pyramids of Mesoamerica

Ancient Mayan Tablet with Hieroglyphics Honors Lowly King   Live Science - August 5, 2015
A 1,600-year-old Mayan stone tablet describing the rule of an ancient king has been unearthed in the ruins of a temple in Guatemala. The broken tablet, or stela, depicts the king's head, adorned with a feathered headdress, along with some of his neck and shoulders. On the other side, an inscription written in hieroglyphics commemorates the monarch's 40-year reign. The stone tablet, found in the jungle temple, may shed light on a mysterious period when one empire in the region was collapsing and another was on the rise.

Stone Tablet Tells Tale of Early Maya King   Epoch Times - July 24, 2015
Archaeologists have discovered a well-preserved Maya stela - a stone tablet - from the site of El Achiotal that dates to the 5th century CE. This stela portrays an early king during one of the more poorly understood periods of ancient Maya history. Researchers discovered the second known reference to the so-called 'end date' of the Maya calendar in 2012.

Early Urban Planning: Ancient Mayan City Built on Grid   Live Science - April 29, 2015
An ancient Mayan city followed a unique grid pattern, providing evidence of a powerful ruler, archaeologists working at Nixtun-Ch'ich' in Peten, Guatemala, have found. The city, which contains flat-topped pyramids, was in use between roughly 600 B.C. and 300 B.C., a time when the first cities were being constructed in the area. No other city from the Maya world was planned using this grid design, researchers say. This city was "organized in a way we haven't seen in other places.

Archaeologists discover Maya 'melting pot'   PhysOrg - March 23, 2015
Archaeologists working in Guatemala have unearthed new information about the Maya civilization's transition from a mobile, hunter-gatherer lifestyle to a sedentary way of life. The team's excavations of the ancient Maya lowlands site of Ceibal suggest that as the society transitioned from a heavy reliance on foraging to farming, mobile communities and settled groups co-existed and may have come together to collaborate on construction projects and participate in public ceremonies. A public plaza uncovered at Ceibal dates to about 950 B.C., with surrounding ceremonial buildings growing to monumental sizes by about 800 B.C. Yet, evidence of permanent residential dwellings in the area during that time is scarce. Most people were still living a traditional hunter-gatherer-like lifestyle, moving from place to place throughout the rainforest, as they would continue to do for five or six more centuries. The area's few permanent residents could not have built the plaza alone.

Maya Mural Reveals Ancient 'Photobomb'   Live Science - February 20, 2015
An ancient Maya mural found in the Guatemalan rainforest may depict a group portrait of advisers to the Maya royalty, a new study finds. Most Maya murals depict life within the royal sphere, but the newfound mural, uncovered in the Guatemalan rainforest in 2010, shows a vibrant scene of intellectuals consulting with the royal governor, who is dressed as the Maya wind god. Behind him, an attendant, almost hidden behind the king's massive headdress, adds a unique photobomb to the mural, said Bill Saturno, the study's lead researcher and an assistant professor of archaeology at Boston University.

  At Newly Discovered Water Temple, Maya Offered Sacrifices to End Drought   National Geographic - January 30, 2015
Nestled in a quiet forest in Belize, a deep aquamarine pool holds ruins from a time when the ancient Maya turned to a "drought cult" and hurried sacrifices to a water god to stave off the fall of their civilization. At the Cara Blanca site in Belize, archaeologists report the discovery of a water temple complex: a small plaza holding the collapsed remnants of a lodge and two smaller structures. The main structure rests beside a deep pool where pilgrims offered sacrifices to the Maya water god, and perhaps to the demons of the underworld.

Belize's Famous 'Blue Hole' Reveals Clues to the Maya's Demise   Live Science - December 24, 2014
The ancient Mayan civilization collapsed due to a century-long drought, new research suggests. Minerals taken from Belize's famous underwater cave, known as the Blue Hole, as well as lagoons nearby, show that an extreme drought occurred between A.D. 800 and A.D. 900, right when the Mayan civilization disintegrated. After the rains returned, the Mayans moved north - but they disappeared again a few centuries later, and that disappearance occurred at the same time as another dry spell, the sediments reveal. Although the findings aren't the first to tie a drought to the Mayan culture's demise, the new results strengthen the case that dry periods were indeed the culprit. That's because the data come from several spots in a region central to the Mayan heartland.

Ancient People of Teotihuacan Drank Milky Alcohol, Pottery Suggests   Live Science - September 15, 2014
Ancient pottery confirms people made and drank a milky alcoholic concoction at one of the largest cities in prehistory, Teotihuacan in Mexico, researchers say. This liquor may have helped provide the people of this ancient metropolis with essential nutrients during frequent shortfalls in staple foods, scientists added. The ancient city of Teotihuacan, whose name means "the city of the gods" in the Nahuatl language of the Aztecs, was the largest city in the Americas before the arrival of Christopher Columbus. At its zenith, Teotihuacan encompassed about 8 square miles (20 square kilometers) and supported an estimated population of 100,000 people, who raised giant monuments such as the Temple of Quetzalcoatl and the Pyramids of the Sun and the Moon.

Volcanic Evidence Opens New Maya Mystery   Live Science - May 30, 2014
Tough and tiny zircon crystals have helped researchers rule out an enormous volcanic blast as the source of ash used to make Maya pottery, deepening this long-running archaeological mystery. However, the results did a reveal a tantalizing new pottery puzzle for scientists to solve - whether the Maya's ash came from one volcano or many spewing cones. otters at Maya cities on the Caribbean side of Central America fused volcanic ash with local limestone to form household and ceremonial pottery, because the ash made their ceramics easier to fire. The distinctive recipe was a hallmark of the Late Classic Period from A.D. 600 to 900, Ford said. With thousands of people living in cities such as El Pilar and Tikal, the Mayan potters burned through several tons of volcanic ash every year, Ford has estimated. But no one can figure out where the ash came from. The mystery begins with the fact that there just aren't any volcanoes in eastern Central America. Nor have archaeologists found evidence the Maya mined ash locally.

How Many Mayans Were There?   Live Science - June 27, 2013
The traces of ancient corn farms could reveal how many people lived in a legendary Maya city, a new study suggests. The pyramid-filled Maya site of Tikal in Guatemala is one of the largest archaeological complexes in Central America. The vast city-state had a long run, flourishing from roughly 600 B.C. until A.D. 900 when the Maya civilization mysteriously collapsed. A group of scientists recently revisited the site, not to hunt for lost treasures or artifacts, but to look for clues in the soil chemistry that might reveal the population of Tikal in its prime. "Dirt analysis may not be as sexy as digging up a jade mask from a former Maya king, but now we can answer more questions about the regular people that made up this ancient civilization," study researcher Chris Balzotti, a graduate studentat Brigham Young University (BYU), said in a statement.

2,300-year-old Mayan pyramid bulldozed   MSNBC - May 14, 2013
A construction company has essentially destroyed one of Belize's largest Mayan pyramids with backhoes and bulldozers to extract rock for a road-building project. The head of the Belize Institute of Archaeology says the destruction was detected late last week. Only a small portion of center of the pyramid mound was left standing.

Mayan pyramid bulldozed by Belize construction crew   BBC - May 14, 2013
Officials in Belize say a construction company has destroyed one of the country's largest Mayan pyramids. Head of the Belizean Institute of Archaeology Jaime Awe said the Noh Mul temple was leveled by a road-building company seeking gravel for road filler. The Mayan temple dates back to pre-Columbian times and is estimated to be 2,300 year old. Only a small core of the pyramid was left standing. Police said they were investigating the incident. Archaeologists said this was not the first incident of its kind.

Robot Finds Mysterious Spheres in Ancient Temple   Discovery - April 30, 2013
Hundreds of mysterious spheres lie beneath the Temple of the Feathered Serpent, an ancient six-level step pyramid just 30 miles from Mexico City. The enigmatic spheres were found during an archaeological dig using a camera-equipped robot at one of the most important buildings in the pre-Hispanic city of Teotihuacan.

Archeologists Unearth New Information On Origins of Maya Civilization   Science Daily - April 25, 2013
The Maya civilization is well-known for its elaborate temples, sophisticated writing system, and mathematical and astronomical developments, yet the civilization's origins remain something of a mystery. Anthropologists typically fall into one of two competing camps with regard to the origins of Maya civilization. The first camp believes that it developed almost entirely on its own in the jungles of what is now Guatemala and southern Mexico. The second believes that the Maya civilization developed as the result of direct influences from the older Olmec civilization and its center of La Venta.

Where did Maya culture come from? Archaeologists dig into tangled roots   MSNBC - April 25, 2013
Archaeologists say that ceremonial structures unearthed in Guatemala are centuries older than they expected - and that the findings point to new theories for the rise of Maya culture. "The origin of Maya civilization was more complex than previously thought," the University of Arizona's Takeshi Inomata, lead researcher for a study appearing in this week's issue of the journal Science, told reporters on Thursday. Even though all this happened 3,000 years ago, the findings could provide fresh insights about social change in general, he said. The Maya had their heyday in Mexico and Central America between the year 250 and 900, but the roots of their culture go much farther back. There are several schools of thought about how their distinctive culture arose: Some archaeologists say the central features of Maya cultural life, including grand ceremonies centered on broad plazas and pyramids, were borrowed from Mexico's older Olmec civilization. Others say those features arose internally, without much outside influence.

Robot Discovers Burial Chambers in Ancient Temple   Live Science - April 23, 2013
Like many other workers, it looks like Indiana Jones has been replaced by a robot. A remote-controlled, mobile robot the size of a lawn mower has discovered three burial chambers deep within the shadowy recesses of the Temple of the Feathered Serpent, an ancient pyramid in Mexico. The temple is part of the archaeological site of Teotihuacan, a vast complex of temples and pyramids about 31 miles (50 kilometers) northeast of Mexico City. Constructed almost 2,000 years ago, the city of Teotihuacan - with more than 125,000 residents, one of the largest cities in the world at its peak - was abandoned several centuries later for reasons that have yet to be discovered.

Ancient Mexico's Dead Got Makeovers   Live Science - January 9, 2013
Death didn't mean the end of beauty for pre-Hispanic civilizations in what is now Mexico. A new study finds that ancient Teotihuacans likely exhumed the dead and painted them with cosmetics during periodic remembrance rituals. The ancient city of Teotihuacan is northeast of modern-day Mexico city. It was a major cultural area in its day, marked by huge monuments, temples and pyramids. Among the archaeological finds at the site are pots of cosmetic pigments. It was these pots that researchers from Mexico and Spain analyzed to reveal the death practices.

Maya Predicted 1991 Solar Eclipse   Live Science - January 8, 2013
> The Maya, best known these days for the doomsday they never foretold, may have accurately predicted astronomical phenomena centuries ahead of time, scientists find. A new book, "Astronomy in the Maya Codices" (American Philosophical Society, 2011), which was awarded the Osterbrock Book Prize for historical astronomy here at the American Astronomical Society conference Monday (Jan. 7), details a series of impressive observations made by Mayan astronomers pre-16th century.

Maya Predicted 1991 Solar Eclipse   Live Science - January 8, 2013
The Maya, best known these days for the doomsday they never foretold, may have accurately predicted astronomical phenomena centuries ahead of time, scientists find. A new book, "Astronomy in the Maya Codices" (American Philosophical Society, 2011), which was awarded the Osterbrock Book Prize for historical astronomy here at the American Astronomical Society conference Monday (Jan. 7), details a series of impressive observations made by Mayan astronomers pre-16th century.

'Oldest Mayan tomb' found in Guatemala's Retalhuleu   BBC - October 26, 2012
One of the oldest Mayan tombs ever found has been uncovered in western Guatemala, say archaeologists. Located at a temple site in Retalhuleu province, the grave is thought to be that of an ancient ruler or religious leader who lived some 2,000 years ago. Carbon-dating indicated the tomb had been built between 700 and 400 BC, said government archaeologist Miguel Orrego.

Maya Holy Snake Queen's Tomb Unearthed in Guatemala   Smithsonian - October 4, 2012
Within a burial chamber, the scientists came across a small, carved alabaster jar depicting the head and arm of a mature woman, a strand of hair in front of her ear. Four glyphs carved into the jar indicated that it belonged to Lady K'abel, a seventh-century Maya Holy Snake Lord, who is considered one of the great queens of Classic Maya civilization.

Tomb of Maya Queen Found - "Lady Snake Lord" Ruled Centipede Kingdom   National Geographic - October 5, 2012
Uncovered at the site of the ancient city of El Peru-Waka, the tomb has been identified as likely belonging to Lady K'abel, military ruler of the Wak, or "Centipede," kingdom between A.D. 672 and 692.

Tomb of Maya Queen Found - "Lady Snake Lord" Ruled Centipede Kingdom   National Geographic - October 5, 2012
Uncovered at the site of the ancient city of El Peru-Waka, the tomb has been identified as likely belonging to Lady K'abel, military ruler of the Wak, or "Centipede," kingdom between A.D. 672 and 692.

Tomb of Maya Queen K'abel Discovered in Guatemala   Science Daily - October 4, 2012
Archaeologists in Guatemala have discovered the tomb of Lady K'abel, a seventh-century Maya Holy Snake Lord considered one of the great queens of Classic Maya civilization.

"Dramatic" New Maya Temple Found, Covered With Giant Faces   National Geographic - July 25, 2012
Archaeological "gold mine" illuminates connection between king and sun god. Some 1,600 years ago, the Temple of the Night Sun was a blood-red beacon visible for miles and adorned with giant masks of the Maya sun god as a shark, blood drinker, and jaguar. Long since lost to the Guatemalan jungle, the temple is finally showing its faces to archaeologists, and revealing new clues about the rivalrous kingdoms of the Maya. Unlike the relatively centralized Aztec and Inca empires, the Maya civilization - which spanned much of what are now Guatemala, Belize, and Mexico's Yucatan region - was a loose aggregation of city-states

Sustainable Tech Saw Ancient Maya Through Drought   Live Science - July 16, 2012
For four months out of every year in the ancient Mayan city of Tikal, the skies dried up and no rain fell. Nevertheless, this metropolis in what is now Guatemala became a bustling hub of as many as 80,000 residents by A.D. 700. Now, researchers have found that the residents of Tikal hung on to their civilization for more than 1,000 years thanks to a surprisingly sustainable system of water delivery. The water needs of Tikal were met by a series of paved reservoirs that held rainwater during the 8-month-long wet season for use during dry periods, archeologists report Monday (July 16) in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. This early plumbing system was surprisingly resilient, seeing the city through times of both plenty and drought.

Ancient Text Confirms Mayan Calendar End Date   Live Science - June 28, 2012
"This text talks about ancient political history rather than prophecy," Marcello Canuto, the director of Tulane University Middle America Research Institute, said in a statement. "This new evidence suggests that the 13 bak'tun date was an important calendrical event that would have been celebrated by the ancient Maya; however, they make no apocalyptic prophecies whatsoever regarding the date." The Mayan Long Count calendar is divided into bak'tuns, or 144,000-day cycles that begin at the Maya creation date. The winter solstice of 2012 (Dec. 21) is the last day of the 13th bak'tun, marking what the Maya people would have seen as a full cycle of creation.

  Maya 2012 inscription predicts royal stability   USA Today - June 28, 2012
Newly-discovered Maya 2012 inscriptions proclaim royal stability, researchers report, not apocalypse.Announced today at the National Palace in Guatemala, the 1,300-year-old inscriptions from the ruins called La Corona, "provides only the second known reference to the so-called 'end date' for the Maya calendar on December 21, 2012," says a Tulane University statement.

Maya archaeologists unearth new 2012 monument   PhysOrg - June 28, 2012
Archaeologists working at the site of La Corona in Guatemala have discovered a 1,300 year-old year-old Maya text that provides only the second known reference to the so-called 'end date' for the Maya calendar on December 21, 2012. The discovery, one of the most significant hieroglyphic find in decades, was announced today at the National Palace in Guatemala.

First physical evidence of tobacco in a Mayan container   PhysOrg - January 11, 2012
A scientist at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and an anthropologist from the University at Albany teamed up to use ultra-modern chemical analysis technology at Rensselaer to analyze ancient Mayan pottery for proof of tobacco use in the ancient culture. Dmitri Zagorevski, director of the Proteomics Core in the Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies (CBIS) at Rensselaer, and Jennifer Loughmiller-Newman, a doctoral candidate at the University at Albany, have discovered the first physical evidence of tobacco in a Mayan container. Their discovery represents new evidence on the ancient use of tobacco in the Mayan culture and a new method to understand the ancient roots of tobacco use in the Americas.

Ancient Offering Discovered Beneath Pyramid of the Sun   Live Science - December 15, 2011
Archaeologists in Mexico have uncovered a small treasure trove of items that may have been placed as offerings to mark the start of construction on the Teotihuacan Pyramid of the Sun almost 2,000 years ago. The offerings include pieces of obsidian and pottery as well as animal remains. Perhaps most striking are three human figurines made out of a green stone, one of which is a serpentine mask that researchers think may have been a portrait.

Original offering found at Teotihuacan pyramid   PhysOrg - December 14, 2011
Archaeologists announced Tuesday that they dug to the very core of Mexico's tallest pyramid and found what may be the original ceremonial offering placed on the site of the Pyramid of the Sun before construction began. The offerings found at the base of the pyramid in the Teotihuacan ruin site just north of Mexico City include a green serpentine stone mask so delicately carved and detailed that archaeologists believe it may have been a portrait. The find also includes 11 ceremonial clay pots dedicated to a rain god similar to Tlaloc, who was still worshipped in the area 1,500 years later, according to a statement by the National Institute of Anthropology and History, or INAH.

Ancient Maya Road Let Villagers Flee Volcanic Death   Live Science - October 6, 2011
At 7 p.m. local time on an evening in August some 1,400 years ago, life stopped short in the Maya village of Ceren as the Loma Caldera volcano erupted less than a third of a mile away. Now, while excavating the town, researchers have discovered a unique road, which was likely how the villagers managed to flee the billowing plume of volcanic ash as it rolled through the town. The road is the only known sacbe made of ash; others are made with a stone-filled outer covering that holds them together. These sacbe, or "white ways," are raised paved roads built by the Maya and usually used to connect temples, plazas and groups of structures within ceremonial centers or cities; some longer roads are also known to connect cities. "Until our discovery, these roads were only known from the Yucatan area in Mexico and all were built with stone linings, which generally preserved well," study researcher Peyson Sheets, of the University of Colorado, said in a statement. "It took the unusual preservation at Ceren to tell us the Maya also made them without stone."

Pictures: Maya Royal Tombs Found With Rare Woman Ruler   National Geographic - September 23, 2011
A woman ruler's skeleton - her head mysteriously placed between two bowls - is one of two royal burials recently found at the Maya ruins of Nakum in Guatemala. The roughly 2,000-year-old tomb was found underneath another, 1,300-year-old tomb filled with treasures such as jade gorgets - normally used to protect the throat - beads, and ceremonial knives. The upper tomb's corpse had been badly destroyed by rodents within the last few centuries, but the body was clearly that of another Maya ruler-perhaps another female, based on the small size of a ring found in that tomb.

Human Sacrifice Found in Maya City Sinkhole   National Geographic - July 8, 2011
Maya Underworld: The bones of six humans - including two children - jade beads, shells, and stone tools are among the Maya "treasures" recently found in a water-filled cave off a sinkhole at the famous archaeological site of Chichen Itza in Mexico, archaeologists say. The ancient objects are most likely related to a ritual human sacrifice during a time when water levels were lower, sometime between A.D. 850 and 1250, the researchers say.

Micro-camera Provides First Peek Inside Mayan Tomb   Live Science - June 25, 2011
A Mayan tomb closed to the world for 1,500 years has finally revealed some of its secrets as scientists snaked a tiny camera into a red-and-black painted burial chamber. The room, decorated with paintings of nine figures, also contains pottery, jade pieces and shell, archaeologists from Mexico's National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH). The tomb is located in Palenque, an expansive set of stone ruins in the Mexican state of Chiapas. According to the INAH, the tomb was discovered in 1999 under a building called Temple XX. But the stonework and location prevented exploration. [See the images taken in the tomb]

Maya Mystery Solved by "Important" Volcanic Discovery?   National Geographic - April 15, 2011
Volcanic ash found in canals may explain how cities survived with poor soil. Even at ancient Maya cities far from volcanoes, ash rained down relatively frequently, a "spectacularly important" new study says. The finding could explain how these ancient metropolises survived - and even prospered - despite having poor soil. Extending south from southern Mexico, through Guatemala, and into northern Belize, the Maya Empire prospered from about A.D. 250 to 900, when it crumbled. (See an interactive map of the Maya civilization.) Recently scientists discovered a distinct beige clay mineral in ruined canals at Guatemala's Tikal archaeological site-once the largest city of the southern Maya lowlands. The mineral, a type of smectite, derives only from the breakdown of volcanic ash.

Discovery in Guatemala finds oldest royal Mayan tomb   PhysOrg - April 6, 2011
At the recent Society for American Archaeology meeting in Sacramento, California, archaeologist Michael Callaghan from the University of Texas presented his team's findings from the ancient site of K'o (now modern-day Guatemala) and what they believe to be the oldest known royal Mayan tomb.

Ancient Maya Temples Were Giant Loudspeakers?   National Geographic - December 17, 2010
Complexes may have used acoustic design to broadcast - and disorient. Centuries before the first speakers and subwoofers, ancient Americans - intentionally or not - may have been turning buildings into giant sound amplifiers and distorters to enthrall or disorient audiences, archaeologists say. Temples at the ancient Maya city of Palenque (map) in central Mexico, for example, might have formed a kind of "unplugged" public-address system, projecting sound across great distances, according to a team led by archaeologist Francisca Zalaquett of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México. (See an interactive map of the Maya civilization.)

Maya City in 3-D   National Geographic - November 18, 2010
Airborne lasers have "stripped" away thick rain forests to reveal new images of an ancient Maya metropolis that's far bigger than anyone had thought. An April 2009 flyover of the Maya city of Caracol used Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) equipment - which bounces laser beams off the ground - to help scientists construct a 3-D map of the settlement in western Belize. The survey revealed previously unknown buildings, roads, and other features in just four days, scientists announced earlier this month at the International Symposium on Archaeometry in Tampa, Florida.

Undersea Cave Yields One of Oldest Skeletons in Americas   National Geographic - September 15, 2010
Apparently laid to rest more than 10,000 years ago in a fiery ritual, one of the oldest skeletons in the Americas has been retrieved from an undersea cave along Mexico's Yucatán Peninsula, researchers say. Dating to a time when the now lush region was a near desert, the "Young Man of Chan Hol" may help uncover how the first Americans arrived-and who they were. About 80 miles (130 kilometers) south of Cancún, the cave system of Chan Hol - Maya for "little hole" - is like a deep gouge into the Caribbean coast.

Mayan Water Reservoir in Mexican Rainforest: Archaeologists Find Huge Artificial Lake With Ceramic-Lined Floor   Science Daily - August 27, 2010
Archaeologists from the University of Bonn have found a water reservoir the size of a soccer field, whose floor is lined with ceramic shards, in the Mexican rainforest. It seems that in combination with the limestone on top, the shards were supposed to seal the artificial lake. The system was built about 1,500 years ago. It is the first example of this design found for the Maya. It is not yet known whether the reservoir's entire floor is tiled.

Uxul: Ancient Mayan Reservoirs Discovered in City Ruins   Live Science - August 26, 2010
Two artificial lakes, each capable of holding the water of 10 Olympic-size pools, were discovered in ancient Mayan ruins, archaeologists announced today. An analysis of the so-called "aguadas" revealed the ancient Mayans lined these huge reservoirs of drinking water with ceramic shards, similar to outdoor pools today. The lakes would have held enough water to support a population of 2,000 living in the Mayan city of Uxul during the three-month dry season, the researchers say.

Teotihuacan Ruins Yield 1,800 Year Old Tunnels and Tomb   The Epoch Times - August 8, 2010
For nearly 100 years, archeologists have searched for clues to the identity of the monarchs of the ancient city of Teotihuacan in northern Mexico. On Tuesday archeologists announced they have found what they believe is a tunnel and possibly leading to a ruler's tomb.The long sealed tunnel is believed to be more than 1,800 years old. With the use of a camera and ground-penetrating scanner, archeologists have so far found that the tunnel extends about 37 yards and leads to what appears to be a tomb chamber.

In the tomb chamber, archeologists reported finding rich offerings, including almost 50,000 objects of stone, jade, shell and pottery, including rare ceramic beakers. They have not confirmed that chamber contains the remains or imagery of a ruler. The first hint of where the tunnel lay came in 2003 when a heavy rainstorm caused the ground to sink at the foot of the Pyramid of Quetzalcoatl in the central ceremonial area of the ruins, which lie approximately 340 miles north of Mexico City. Unlike any other pre-Hispanic metropolises that contain remains of deified rulers, Teotihuacan has to date not yielded a single depiction of a ruler, or even the tomb of a monarch.

Teotihuacan is a large, sprawling complex of temples, avenues and plazas, still used for ceremony by many native Mexican tribes. It is home to the Jaguar Temple, Pyramid of Quetzalcoatl, and the towering Pyramids of the Moon and the Sun. Researchers believe that the tunnel was deliberately closed off, between A.D. 200 and 250 and was a central element around which the rest of the ceremonial complex was built, making it the most sacred aspect of the ruins. The city is believed to have had more than 100,000 inhabitants and scientists posit it may have been the largest and most influential city in pre-Hispanic North America at the time. The city reached it's height between 100 B.C. and A.D. 750 and was designated "Teotihuacan" by the Aztecs who discovered it in the 1300's. Teotihuacan means "the place where men become gods."

Since no names, images or other references to rulers have been found in Teotihuacan's stone carvings and exquisite murals, one theory is that city rule may have been shared among multiple leaders, its four precincts possibly ruled by alternating leaders. In 1987 Teotihuacan was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is one of the most visited archaeological sites in Mexico.

Pictures: Odd Maya Tomb Yields Jeweled Teeth, More   National Geographic - July 23, 2010
This ceramic tamale bowl was found near a partly burned baby, gem-studded teeth, and other artifacts in a Maya royal tomb that was opened in Guatemala.

  Diver "Vanishes" in Portal to Maya Underworld   National Geographic - June 29, 2010
Diving into natural pools in Belize in the quest for offerings from the ancient Maya, explorers found what's believed to be the country's first recorded fossilized remains. In the course of the expedition, one diver "disappeared" into the pool's floor.

Aztec, Maya Were Rubber-Making Masters?   National Geographic - June 29, 2010
Ancient civilizations in much of Mexico and Central America were making different grades of rubber 3,000 years before Charles Goodyear "stabilized" the stuff in the mid-19th century, new research suggests. The Aztec, Olmec, and Maya of Mesoamerica are known to have made rubber using natural latex - a milky, sap-like fluid found in some plants. Mesoamerica extends roughly from central Mexico to Honduras and Nicaragua (regional map). Ancient rubber makers harvested latex from rubber trees and mixed it with juice from morning glory vines, which contains a chemical that makes the solidified latex less brittle.