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UArizona professors help discover oldest Mayan ruins known to man

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TUCSON - When adventurers think of some of the most famous Mayan ruins known to man, some of the temples that may come to mind are Chichinitza, Palenque, Uxmal, Tikal, and Tulum. 

However, now, thanks to the research of some anthropology professors at the University of Arizona, a new archeological site may be added to that tourist list someday.

Aguada Fénix, near Mexico's border with Guatemala in the state of Tabasco, was discovered by an international team led by Takeshi Inomata and Daniela Triadan, professors of UArizona's School of Anthropology in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences.

In addition, support from the university's Agnese Nelms Haury program and the authorization of the National Institute of Anthropology and History of Mexico contributed to the discovery of the Aguada Fénix.

"Nobody knew about this site," Inomata said. "That's because it's horizontally large and it's so large that if you walk on it, it looks like a plot of natural landscape."

Triadan added, "We're finally seeing these patterns of landscape modifications that are so big that you can't see with the naked eye."

In total volume, the Maya site exceeds ancient Egypt's Great Pyramid of Giza and more importantly, it gives more insight on the early years of Mesoamerican civilization after the Olmeca period.

Triadan and Inomata's team used LIDAR, or light detection and ranging, technology, which utilizes laser-emitting equipment from an airplane.

"The School of Anthropology is one of the highest ranked anthropology departments in the nation," said Triadan. "[The Maya site reveals] a voluntarily communal effort at a scale that's almost unimaginable, so it gives us a very new idea about how Maya civilization came to be. "

The findings of Professor Inomata and Professor Triadan have been published in the journal "Nature." 

Click here to access the journal to read more on the findings.

Paul Cicala

Paul Cicala is a 2-time winner of the prestigious”Edward R. Murrow Award” for his reporting/anchoring in news & sports. Paul Cicala has also been nominated for multiple EMMY’s. Cicala has won the “Best Sportscaster” category in Tucson the last 3 years (voted on by readers of “Tucson Weekly”). Cicala is a native Tucsonan who specialized in border stories during his earlier career as a news reporter in this market, and now concentrates mainly on sports stories (with an occasional special report and/or feature story on life in Tucson & the Sonoran Desert).

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