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El Mirador: the secret city that predates the Maya Civilization by 1000 years

The site dates back to 600 BC: almost a thousand years before the classical age of the Maya (250-900 AD). It was the sacred capital of a civilization that the Maya later passed down in their myths as the legendary kingdom of Kan. 39 square km wide, it was the capital that reached 100 thousand inhabitants of a kingdom including dozens of cities.

El Mirador: the secret city that predates the Maya Civilization by 1000 years
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In the jungle of Guatemala lies the Mayan city of El Mirador, capital of the legendary kingdom of Kan in 600 BC. The city was almost a metropolis for the time: 100 thousand inhabitants and an area of ​​39 square kilometers.

For researchers, the traces of this city are important because demonstrate that the origin of the Mayan civilization must have been anticipated by a millennium compared to what was previously thought.

The archaeological site can only be reached after 3 days of walking in the forest from the village of Carmelita. When it was found, the settlement was completely hidden by the forest.

The city was an important economic center: El Mirador was connected with many other cities in the area (the dynastic symbol of the serpent of the kingdom of Kan was found in at least 26 cities: the largest among the ancient pre-Columbian civilizations) through a network of large streets covered with white lime. Men and goods walked on them and were used to transport products as jade, alabaster, obsidian, wool, but also cocoa, corn and pumpkin.

El Mirador: the secret city that predates the Maya Civilization by 1000 years
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For the Maya the site was the mythical place of origins, where even King Pacal in 638 thought of going after his death, to reunite with all the other divinities, since he believed he was the incarnation of the corn God.

El Mirador was full of buildings of various sizes. The largest was the pyramid called “La Danta” (the tapir) which with its 800 meters of basal diameter (more than two football fields) and 72 meters of height (almost 24 floors) was the largest pyramid in the world in terms of surface area (with a volume of 2.8 million cubic meters) and the second in height after that of Cheops in Egypt.

At the foot of the “La Danta” pyramid, obsidian blades, whistles and remains of drums were found, probably objects linked to rituals. At the base of the building were the spectators and musicians, and at the top the priests celebrated the rites. On particular occasions human victims could be sacrificed.

Normally, however, animals were sacrificed or a lump of sap from the red croton tree was burned as a substitute for the human heart, the smell of which was pleasing to the gods.

The great pyramid was built by thousands of workers between 300 and 100 BC and is an example of triadic architecture, i.e. with 3 elements: a central cusp and two smaller lateral ones that recall the stars of Orion's belt, symbol of celestial creation.

El Mirador: the secret city that predates the Maya Civilization by 1000 years
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The Maya, moreover, were expert observers of stars: for them (as the sacred text "Popol Vuh" tells us) creation was the result of the agreement between the great divine forces of the sky and the sea. And they had a large pantheon of gods and legends, which tell themes sometimes similar to those of ancient Western civilizations.

The gods inspired awe fueled by sculptures that represented them as threatening monsters, with gaping jaws and claws: if they were not appeased with sacrifices, they would take revenge and the natural order would be upset. For the Maya everything had its place in creation and, if the balance was not disturbed, peace and prosperity would last for a long time.

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