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Study Offering New Insights on the Origins of Maya Civilization

Posted on May, 2, 2013
Contributed to WCHV by WCHV


A recent study published in the April 26th issue of Science magazine reports on the results of new discoveries from Ceibal, Guatemala and prompting archeologists to reconsider the origins of the Maya civilization, which flourished in Mesoamerica for centuries. A team of archeologists led by Dr. Takashi Inomata from University of Arizona, dated early ceremonial structures at the site and concluded that the Maya culture had multiple influences.  For example, they suggest that the formal plazas and pyramids at Ceibal, an ancient Maya site in Guatemala, probably arose from broad cultural exchanges that took place across southern Mesoamerica from about 1,000 to 700 BCE. These new findings from the excavations challenge two prevailing theories on how the ancient Maya civilization began, suggesting its origins are more complex than previously thought. Until now, two theories have dominated the debate concerning the origin of the Maya civilization: one suggesting that the Maya developed almost entirely on their own in what is now southern Mexico, Guatemala, and Belize, and another suggesting that the older Olmec civilization was the Maya’s dominant cultural influence. The new findings, however, mean that neither of these theories can tell the full story of the Maya. Dr. Inomata and his team provide radiocarbon dating measurements taken from some of the ceremonial constructions at Ceibal that predate the growth of La Venta, a major center of the Olmec, by as much as 200 years.

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