Protolanguages: Decoding Words from the Past?

Protolanguage Tree for the Hypothetical Proto-Mayan Language

Protolanguage Tree for the Hypothetical Proto-Mayan Language
Attribution: Régis Lachaume
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Protolanguages are hypothetical ancestors of modern languages. For example, modern Maya, as well as other ancient Mesoamerican scripts (Olmec, Zapotec, Classic Maya to name a few) are believed to have descended from an original language called Proto-Mayan (see chart). Needless to say, decoding protolanguages is a massive undertaking. Here’s more on a new computer system which appears to do the job quickly and with decent accuracy from the University of British Columbia:

University of British Columbia and Berkeley researchers have used a sophisticated new computer system to quickly reconstruct protolanguages – the rudimentary ancient tongues from which modern languages evolved.

The results, which are 85 per cent accurate when compared to the painstaking manual reconstructions performed by linguists, will be published next week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“We’re hopeful our tool will revolutionize historical linguistics much the same way that statistical analysis and computer power revolutionized the study of evolutionary biology,” says UBC Assistant Prof. of Statistics Alexandre Bouchard-Côté, lead author of the study…

(See the rest at University of British Columbia)

December 21, 2012: Doomsday? Or just another Day?

On December 21, 2012, the Maya Long Count Calendar will reach an end. What happens next? The 2012 Doomsday? Or will it be just another day?

Does Popol Vuh Predict the Maya Doomsday?
“Page from Popol Vuh” (Date Unknown)
Source: Wikimedia Commons

The 2012 Doomsday Phenomenon

We’ve talked about the 2012 Doomsday phenomenon before, but here’s a quick background. According to the Maya codice Popol Vuh, we’re currently living in the fourth world of creation. After the first three worlds failed, the Maya gods created the current version of mankind.

Now, the Classic Maya civilization used something called the Long Count Calendar. As best as we can determine, each date was described using five separate numbers. The largest number they used was a b’ak’tun, which was equivalent to 144,000 days, or roughly 394 years.

Each of the previous Maya worlds supposedly lasted 13 b’ak’tuns, or a grand total of 5,126 years. Some scholars have attempted to match up the Gregorian calendar with the Long Count calendar. They think the current world of creation started on August 11, 3114 BC. The end of the 13th b’ak’tun (and thus, the end of the fourth world of creation) is supposed to take place on December 21, 2012. Some consider this to be the 2012 Doomsday.

What’s New?

Several months ago, archaeologists Marcello A. Canuto and Tomás Barrientos were excavating a building at “Site Q” in Guatemala which had been seemingly stripped by treasure hunters. They unearthed 22 carved stones. And when added with other stones recovered from the black market, they were able to piece together 264 hieroglyphs.

Dr. David Stuart deciphered the text and found it covered about 200 years of history at “Site Q.” One portion of text commemorated a visit in 696 AD by a Maya king named Yuknoom Yich’aak K’ahk’.

The ancient text refers to Yuknoom Yich’aak K’ahk’ as the “13 K’atun lord.” But what does this mean? Well, each b’ak’tun is made up of 20 k’atun, which are equivalent to about 20 years apiece.

In 692 AD, the 13th k’atun cycle of the 9th b’ak’tun came to an end. Based on the text, it appears Yuknoom Yich’aak K’ahk’ was king at that time. It was a fairly significant date. But not nearly as significant as, say, the end of the 13th b’ak’tun cycle.

Canuto and Barrientos theorize that Yuknoom Yich’aak K’ahk’ decided to connect these two dates via the number “13.” If true, it seems safe to assume he viewed the end of the 13th b’ak’tun cycle (and thus, the so-called 2012 Doomsday) as something to be revered, not feared.

“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.” ~ Marcello A. Canuto, Maya archaeologists unearth new 2012 monument

Guerrilla Explorer’s Analysis

Truthfully, this new evidence appears pretty flimsy. We can’t know for sure why Yuknoom Yich’aak K’ahk’ called himself the “13 K’atun lord.” Maybe all rulers referred to themselves in this fashion. So, while the text itself is a tremendous archaeological find, we’re not sure it tells us much about how the Classic Mayas would’ve felt about the 2012 Doomsday theories. The Mayas were fascinated by time. According to the available evidence, they seem to have viewed it as a continuous cycle of worlds. However, there’s no evidence they saw December 21, 2012 as the ultimate doomsday. In fact, researchers have discovered references to post-2012 dates on several ancient Maya ruins.

“Recently, archaeologists discovered some very old Mayan astronomical tables at the Xultun ruins (well, they actually stumbled on them while chasing off treasure hunters). They discovered four long numbers on a wall which appear to reference a date 7,000 years past 813 AD.” ~ David Meyer, The Mayan Doomsday Prophecy?

All in all, the Classic Maya civilization was highly advanced for its time. But there’s no reason to believe they were capable of predicting anything. After all, if they were such great prophets, then how come they never saw the ending of their own civilization?

“And maybe the most important question to ask was voiced to me by Bill Saturno, discoverer of the San Bartolo murals. If the Maya were such skilled prophets, how could they have missed the Conquest? “Didn’t see that one coming, did they?” The single most devastating disaster to befall the peoples of the Americas of all time, and not a word about it in the entire corpus of Mayan prophetic literature.” ~ Mark Van Stone, 2012 FAQ

The Strange Collapse of the Harappan Civilization?

Some 4,000 years ago, the mighty Harappan civilization accounted for 10% of the entire global population. Suddenly, this once-great society collapsed. What happened to the Harappan civilization?

Why did the Harappan Civilization collapse?

Why did the Harappan Civilization collapse?
Description: Harappan Seal, possibly of a “yogi” or “proto-Shiva” figure, discovered during excavation of the Mohenjodaro archaeological site (2600-1900 BCE).
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Why did the Harappan Civilization Collapse?

The Harappan, or Indus, sprouted up 5,200 years ago. It grew into an ancient powerhouse, covering a massive area of 386,000 square miles, including parts of India, Pakistan, Nepal, and Bangladesh. Archaeological digs show it contained large cities, plumbing, sea links, trade routes, and a unique writing system (which has yet to be deciphered). But then, after more than 1,000 years of existence, the society began to crumble. People abandoned their homes and moved east.

“Antiquity knew about Egypt and Mesopotamia, but the Indus civilization, which was bigger than these two, was completely forgotten until the 1920s. There are still many things we don’t know about them.” ~ Liviu Giosan, Geologist, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Recently, Liviu Giosan and a team of researchers collected vast amounts of data on the area’s geological history. They discovered that monsoon rains caused rivers to once flow through the region. These rivers were initially too wild to support agriculture. However, they started to weaken about 5,000 years ago, coinciding with the rise of the Harappan civilization. But eventually, the rivers dried up and the Harappan shifted east toward the still-wet Ganges basin. Thus, the “collapse.”

Why do Complex Societies Collapse?

The question of why complex societies collapse is an old one. These days, environmental explanations are all the rage. And it’s no accident. Throughout time, collapse theories have served as critiques of the modern world.

“Whereas collapses were once attributed to impious or selfish rulers, or in West’s view to indolent masses, in today’s framework the sin is gluttony: ancient societies collapsed because they overshot the carrying capacities of their environments, degrading their support bases in the process. And since it happened to past societies, it could happen to us too. According to contemporary literature, the next collapse will come because all of us have consumed too many goods, eaten too much, driven too far, and produced too many children.” ~ Joseph Tainter, Collapse, Sustainability, and the Environment: How Authors Choose to Fail or Succeed

Take the Classic Maya for example. The Maya used a complex water management system that depended on regular rainfall. So, when rain decreased for an extended period of time, the Classic Maya were supposedly unable to adjust. They proceeded to abandon their cities, causing the famous collapse of the Classic Maya civilization.

Sounds good right? Ancient climate change wrecks havoc and people move away, seeking better conditions. But that presents a problem. Complex societies are formed to deal with complex problems. So, why didn’t the Harrapan or the Maya find ways to deal with their environmental problems? Well, in all likelihood, they tried to. And thus, we would postulate that there is another reason for their collapses. Collapses, as Joseph Tainter once said, “happen.” They are a natural part of civilization.

“As a society faces problems, it becomes more complex in order to solve them. A central government creates “solutions” which consume resources and cause yet more problems. The society becomes increasingly complex, leading to the necessity of even more complex solutions. Eventually, the costs of maintaining such a complex society outweighs the benefits at the individual level. When problems arise – things like drought or invasion – the collapse of the society is more desirable than the alternative. At that point, the civilization undergoes a process of simplification.” ~ David Meyer, The Mystery of the Vanishing Maya

Interestingly enough, the Harappan didn’t construct new cities once they fled their old homes. Instead, they shifted toward “small farming communities.” This would appear to support the idea of deliberate simplification.

“Cities collapsed, but smaller agricultural communities were sustainable and flourished. Many of the urban arts, such as writing, faded away, but agriculture continued and actually diversified.” ~ Dorian Fuller, Archaeologist, University College London

Guerrilla Explorer’s Analysis

The desire for societal collapse might strike some of you as strange. But you have to remember that ancient societies weren’t uniform. Not everyone could be an astronomer or a high priest. Most people were ordinary workers.

As ancient societies got more complex, layers of bureaucrats, academics, and other “elites” began to form. The brunt of supporting these layers often fell on a particular group of people. These people built massive buildings, provided food, were pressed into wars, served as sacrificial victims, and paid taxes for the “privileges of society.” Under those conditions, many people would’ve found view the loss of complexity as a blessing. For example, studies have shown that the health and nutrition of peasants deteriorated during the rise of the Classic Maya. These same factors improved after the collapse.

It’s possible climate change served as a trigger for the collapse of the Harappan civilization. But many civilizations have managed to avoid similar collapses despite horrific droughts and famines. So, it seems quite possible to us that there is another explanation at play here. When the river began to dry up, it was the straw that broke the camel’s back. The cost of maintaining the complicated Harappan society just became too steep for the average peasant. Rather than stick it out, they decided to seek better lives. While we view this as a collapse, the ancient Harappan may have seen it differently. To them, it might’ve been a new beginning.

The Mayan Doomsday Prophecy?

 On December 21, 2012, the Mayan Long Count calendar will reach the end of a 5,126 year cycle. Is this the 2012 doomsday? Or just another day?

The Temple of Tohil at the former K’iche’ capital of Q’umarkaj
Drawn by Frederick Catherwood (published in 1841)
Source: Wikimedia Commons

The 2012 Doomsday Phenomenon

The 2012 Doomsday phenomenon has reached almost epic proportions. It’s been featured in numerous documentaries on the History Channel and the Discovery Channel. It was even made into a movie, the aptly named 2012.

So, what are the facts? According to the Maya codice Popol Vuh, we’re currently living in the fourth world of creation. In the first world, the Maya gods Kukulkán and Tepeu created man out of mud. The mud crumbled and so in the second world, the gods switched to wood. However, this version of mankind lacked souls and rebelled against the gods. The gods destroyed them with rain and then created a third world. This time, they constructed man out of maize. When this failed, the Maya gods created the current version of mankind.

Now, the Classic Maya civilization used something called the Long Count Calendar. As best as we can determine, each date was described using five separate numbers. The largest number they used was a b’ak’tun, which was equivalent to 144,000 days, or roughly 394 years.

Each of the above-mentioned worlds supposedly lasted 13 b’ak’tuns, or a grand total of about 5,126 years. Some scholars have attempted to match up the Gregorian calendar with the Long Count calendar. They think the current world of creation started on August 11, 3114 BC. The end of the 13th b’ak’tun will thus take place on December 21, 2012.

Did the Ancient Mayas Believe in a 2012 Doomsday?

So, that’s the background. But did the Mayas see this as doomsday? Well, it’s difficult to determine exactly what they thought about it. The Mayas were fascinated with the concept of time. They seemed to view it as a never-ending cycle of ends and new beginnings. So, it’s possible they would’ve viewed December 21, 2012 as a doomsday of sorts. However, there’s really no evidence to suggest they saw it as anything more than the completion of one cycle and the beginning of another. Indeed, many modern scholars think the ancient Maya would’ve seen December 21 as a major celebration.

One thing is clear. The Maya didn’t appear to view the end of the cycle as the ultimate doomsday. Researchers have discovered references to post-2012 dates on several ancient Maya ruins.

“At Palenque, for instance, they predicted that people in the year 4772 AD would be celebrating the anniversary of the coronation of their great king Pakal.” ~ Mark Van Stone, 2012 FAQ

Recently, archaeologists discovered some very old Mayan astronomical tables at the Xultun ruins (well, they actually stumbled on them while chasing off treasure hunters). They discovered four long numbers on a wall which appear to reference a date 7,000 years past 813 AD.

Overall, it would appear the Classic Maya expected the Earth to keep spinning well past December 21, 2012. Not that it really matters. There’s no reason to believe the Mayas possessed any prophetic skills whatsoever. After all, if they were such great prophets, then how come they never saw the ending of their own civilization?

“And maybe the most important question to ask was voiced to me by Bill Saturno, discoverer of the San Bartolo murals. If the Maya were such skilled prophets, how could they have missed the Conquest? “Didn’t see that one coming, did they?” The single most devastating disaster to befall the peoples of the Americas of all time, and not a word about it in the entire corpus of Mayan prophetic literature.” ~ Mark Van Stone, 2012 FAQ

The Longest Bridge of the Ancient World?

During the late 7th century, Maya engineers constructed the longest Maya bridge known to exist in the ancient world. It spanned 113 meters across the Usumacinta River and was designed to allow residents of Yaxchilan to reach their villages and farms.

Is this an ancient Maya bridge?

Is this an ancient Maya bridge?
Description: A pile of debris in the Usumacinta River. Archaeologists speculate it may be part of an ancient Maya bridge.
Attribution: Neatguy at en.wikipedia
Source: Wikimedia Commons

The Maya Bridge – The Longest Bridge of the Ancient World?

Here’s more from the discoverer of the Maya bridge, James O’Kon:

The Maya city of Yaxchilan is sited within a giant omega of the Usumacinta River. This circular bend in the river developed a 3.2 kilometer wide land mass within the inner curve of the river. This protected area, formed within the confines of the inner curve of the river, created a natural fortress for the city. However, the river is in a flood state for six months of the year, and during the rainy season the broad and swiftly flowing waters isolated the city from access to its domain across the river.

In order to survive as a viable urban center, this ancient city required a dependable year-round way to cross the river. While the site had been studied by archaeologists since 1882, the need for a bridge crossing was not considered as a necessity by archaeological studies. The ancient ruins that were the clues to the existence of this lost landmark of Maya Engineering were hiding in plain sight…The need for a permanent lifeline to insure the survival of the city during the flood season was overlooked by archaeologists until James O’Kon carried out a series of expeditions, forensic engineering investigations, archaeo-engineering analysis, remote sensing, and computer modeling of this structure lead to the digital re-construction of the bridge. Constructed in the late 7th century, landmark three-span suspension bridge crossed from the city center over the Usumacinta River to the north side where the villages and farms were located…

The Mysterious Origin of Maya Blue?

Around 800 AD, the ancient Mayas started to use a strange blue pigment in their artwork. What was Maya Blue?

A Maya Warrior (with Maya Blue in the background)

A Maya Warrior (with Maya Blue in the background)
Source: Wikimedia Commons

The Mysterious Origin of Maya Blue?

Maya Blue was a unique, weather resistant, blue pigment used by ancient pre-Columbian cultures such as the Maya. For many years, we’ve known Maya Blue consisted of indigo and a magnesium aluminum phyllosilicate known as palygorskite. But like Phoenicia’s famous Tyrian Purple, the sources of those materials have long remained a mystery…until now.

Recent research has identified at least two sources of the palygorskite. They originated from mines located in the northern half of the Yucatán Peninsula. Here’s more on the origin of Maya Blue from Archaeology News Network:

For some time, scientists have known that Maya Blue is formed through the chemical combination of indigo and the clay mineral palygorskite. Only now, however, have researchers established a link between contemporary indigenous knowledge and ancient sources of the mineral.

In a paper published online in the Journal of Archaeological Science on March 16, 2012, researchers from Wheaton College, The Field Museum of Natural History, the United States Geological Survey, California State University of Long Beach, and the Smithsonian Institution, demonstrated that the palygorskite component in some of the Maya Blue samples came from mines in two locations in Mexico’s northern Yucatan Peninsula…

(See Archaeology News Network for more on Maya Blue)

The Mysterious Missing Maya?

Another week, another theory on what the mysterious Classic Maya collapse. As a reminder, the Classic Maya period took place in the southern Maya lowlands of the Yucatán Peninsula, starting around 200 AD. By 900 AD, this highly-advanced civilization had abandoned its great cities and seemingly vanished from the face of the Earth. So, what caused the mysterious Maya collapse?

What caused the Mysterious Maya Collapse?

What Caused the Mysterious Maya Collapse?
Description: David Meyer (the Guerrilla Explorer) at the Maya Ruins at Tikal

The Mysterious Maya Collapse?

Over the years, a number of theories have been put forth to explain this “collapse,” ranging from invasion to epidemics to most recently, climate change. Last week, another theory emerged to grab the headlines. Like many others, it blames the collapse on climate change…as well as religion. Here’s a quick taste on this latest Maya collapse theory from Fox News:

Reoccupying elevated interior areas with large numbers of people would require intense labor to re-establish water management systems, helping to explain why they were left abandoned, the researchers noted. In contrast, dwelling in the neighboring, low-lying areas was less challenging, and evidence suggests that sites there were typically occupied continuously even when the major political and economic networks they were linked with collapsed.

At the same time, the Classic Maya would have implicated gods and their “divine” rulers for the collapse. In that way, their abandoned territories became thought of as chaotic, haunted places, and reclaiming any lands from the forest was at best done with great care and ritual. Survivors in outlying sites may often not have bothered…

Guerrilla Explorer’s Analysis

Most of our regular readers know we don’t place a lot of credence in the various climate change theories, all of which are far more problematic than the media would have you believe. Now, its possible the Classic Maya stayed away from their former cities out of religious concerns. However, there is an equally plausible explanation. Perhaps they just found themselves living a far better life after the “collapse” and saw no reason to return to their former cities. Here’s more on the Maya collapse from us here at Guerrilla Explorer:

I want to suggest another theory to explain the Classic Maya collapse…namely, excessive centralization. This theory is best expressed by Joseph Tainter in The Collapse of Complex Societies.

As a society faces problems, it becomes more complex in order to solve them. A central government creates “solutions” which consume resources and cause yet more problems. The society becomes increasingly complex, leading to the necessity of even more complex solutions. Eventually, the costs of maintaining such a complex society outweighs the benefits at the individual level. When problems arise – things like drought or invasion – the collapse of the society is more desirable than the alternative. At that point, the civilization undergoes a process of simplification.

Historians tend to favor the collective over the individual. So, they often see the collapse of a complex society as a bad thing. And indeed, societal collapse is often bad for elites. However, it can be a blessing for the average individual, leaving that person far better off. Consider it from the point of the individual. For hundreds of years, Maya peasants were forced to support the construction of gigantic monuments and agricultural projects as well as fight in various wars. However, many of these things were of little benefit to the individual. In fact, the health and nutrition of peasants deteriorated throughout the Classic Maya period. For many of these people, the loss of complexity brought individual improvement.

The mystery of what triggers caused the collapse of the Classic Maya civilization remains a mystery. Perhaps it was drought. Maybe it was war or disease. And we still don’t know what happened to the people of that civilization. Many of them may have died from the immediate triggers. There is also evidence to suggest they merely moved north, precipitating the rise of Chichen Itza in the northern Yucatán. Regardless, it would appear that the seeds for destruction for the Classic Maya were sewn many years earlier, thanks to excessive centralization.

(See more on the Classic Maya collapse at Guerrilla Explorer)

The Lost City of Calakmul

Deep in the jungles of the Petén Basin lies Calakmul, one of the great lost cities of the Mayas.

A Pyramid in the Lost City of Calakmul

Becán, Campeche: A Pyramid in the Lost City of Calakmul
Attribution: Joaquín Martínez Rosado
Source: Wikimedia Commons

The Lost City of Calakmul?

The lost city of Calakmul remained undiscovered by outsiders until 1931. Since that time, it’s become more accessible but just barely. It’s an archaeological paradise and contains the second-largest Maya structure known to exist…the 184-foot tall Structure II. Here’s more on the fabulous lost city of Calakmul from Air Tran Magazine:

Around here, the signs of ancient Maya civilization are everywhere, rising like ghosts from the ground. In the state of Campeche (which borders Cancun’s Quintana Roo on the west), Mexico’s archeological authority, INAH, has catalogued more than 1,500 Maya sites. These sprawling, longago cities and towns covered so much of the area that when the government sought to widen Highway 180, it had to choose which ruins were small enough to plow under and which were worthy of preservation.

Even amid such archeological bounty, though, an ancient city called Calakmul stands out…

(See Lost in the Jungle for more on the lost city of Calakmul)

The Mystery of the Vanishing Maya?

The Classic Maya Collapse is one of history’s greatest mysteries. How did it happen? And why do civilizations collapse?

What caused the Classic Maya Collapse?

David Meyer, the Guerrilla Explorer, at Palenque: What caused the Classic Maya Collapse?
Source: Guerrilla Explorer

The Classic Maya Collapse?

The Classic Maya period took place in the southern Maya lowlands of the Yucatán Peninsula, starting around 200 AD (you can see one of the remnants of that civilization up above…that’s Palenque which I visited a few months ago while searching for lost Maya ruins). By 900 AD, this highly-advanced civilization had abandoned its great cities and seemingly ceased to exist. Most scholars blame the Classic Maya collapse on things like invasion, epidemics, or climate change.

Why do Civilizations Collapse?

The question of why civilizations collapse is an old one. Many modern scientists have been heavily influenced by the environment-based theories of Jared Diamond. Even as you read this, the media is all abuzz about research purporting to show the Classic Maya Collapse occurred because of “relatively modest dry spells.” The Maya used a complex water management system that depended on regular rainfall. So, when rain decreased for an extended period of time, the Classic Maya were unable to adjust. As is all the rage these days, the researchers then compare this reasoning for the Classic Maya Collapse to the present world, suggesting the need for government-led climate intervention.

“Whereas collapses were once attributed to impious or selfish rulers, or in West’s view to indolent masses, in today’s framework the sin is gluttony: ancient societies collapsed because they overshot the carrying capacities of their environments, degrading their support bases in the process. And since it happened to past societies, it could happen to us too. According to contemporary literature, the next collapse will come because all of us have consumed too many goods, eaten too much, driven too far, and produced too many children. The Greek tragedy unfolds even as numerous Cassandras (including Diamond and Caldararo) warn us to mend our ways. Some students of ancient societies perceive in this development that we now have an opportunity to contribute to broad social thought, even to human well-being. There is, however, another strand of thought that holds humans blameless. Collapses happen.” ~ Joseph Tainter, Collapse, Sustainability, and the Environment: How Authors Choose to Fail or Succeed

The Problem of Excessive Centralization?

I don’t want to get into Diamond’s work or the various climate change theories, all of which are highly problematic. Instead, I want to suggest another theory to explain the Classic Maya collapse…namely, excessive centralization. This theory is best expressed by Joseph Tainter in The Collapse of Complex Societies.

As a society faces problems, it becomes more complex in order to solve them. A central government creates “solutions” which consume resources and cause yet more problems. The society becomes increasingly complex, leading to the necessity of even more complex solutions. Eventually, the costs of maintaining such a complex society outweighs the benefits at the individual level. When problems arise – things like drought or invasion – a civilization collapse is more desirable than the alternative. At that point, the civilization undergoes a process of simplification.

Guerrilla Explorer’s Analysis

Historians tend to favor the collective over the individual. So, they often see the collapse of a complex society as a bad thing. And indeed, societal collapse is often bad for elites. However, it can be a blessing for the average individual, leaving that person far better off. Consider it from the point of the individual. For hundreds of years, Maya peasants were forced to support the construction of gigantic monuments and agricultural projects as well as fight in various wars. However, many of these things were of little benefit to the individual. In fact, the health and nutrition of peasants deteriorated throughout the Classic Maya period. For many of these people, the Classic Maya collapse brought about individual improvement.

The mystery of what triggers caused the Classic Maya Collapse remain a mystery.  Perhaps it was drought. Maybe it was war or disease. And we still don’t know what happened to the people of that civilization. Many of them may have died from the immediate triggers. There is also evidence to suggest they merely moved north, precipitating the rise of Chichen Itza in the northern Yucatán. Regardless, it would appear that the seeds for the Classic Maya Collapse were sewn many years earlier, thanks to excessive centralization.

Lost Ancient Megalithic Architecture?

Lost cities are a fascinating subject. But have we found them all? Or is there ancient megalithic architecture still out there, waiting to be discovered?

Do Lost Cities Still Exist?

Do Lost Cities still exist?
David Meyer (aka the Guerrilla Explorer) ventures into ancient Maya ruins
Source: Guerrilla Explorer

Do Lost Cities Still Exist?

A few weeks back, I was trekking through the Yucatán Peninsula, in search of ancient Maya lost cities. Much of the upper part of this region is flat land. So, when you spot a hill, the chances are good you’re looking at an unexcavated ruin, which has given way to nature over the course of many centuries. The sheer number of such sites in the Yucatán is truly remarkable.

Here’s a good article from Katie Crenshaw at Technorati on the possibility of finding far more ancient “monumental architecture” (aka lost cities) in today’s modern world:

…It is widely accepted that anatomically modern humans, humans who look and think like humans today, emerged around 200,000 years ago. Linguists argue that language emerged sometime between 150,000 – 50,000 years ago. Assuming that the creation of complex sites such as Gobekli Tepe required the use of a complete language, not a proto-language, we can assume that humans had the capacity and ability to produce monumental architecture since at least 50,000 years ago, if not before…

Your next question should rightfully be “If we have had the ability to produce such impressive sites as Gobekli Tepe, the pyramids of Egypt and Mexico, and Stonehenge, since 50,000 years ago, conservatively, why haven’t we found evidence of these early sites?”

(See more on ancient monumental architecture and lost cities at Technorati)