The deeds of royal dynasties presiding over Maya city-states in northern Guatemala can still be followed on ornate inscriptions raised in their name. But just how large were their dominions? Tom Garrison tells us how recent survey and follow-up fieldwork is revolutionising our knowledge of Maya state power.
Survey near the town of Palpa, Peru, has revealed a wealth of geoglyphs. Are they older than their celebrated neighbours at Nasca? And were they aimed at a very different audience?
When the Spanish conquistador Hernando Pizarro arrived at Pachacamac, Peru, in January 1533, he had before him one of the jewels of the Inca Empire. ‘We arrived,’ he wrote, ‘in this city thathat seems very old because most of the buildings are in ruins.’ Archaeological research at the site has since vindicated his judgement.
Seeking out Maya masterpieces in Yucatán Head off the beaten track in Mexico and you might be rewarded with some magnificent Maya archaeology, as Tom St John Gray reveals. The Spanish have built a city here and called it Mérida, because of the strangeness and greatness of its structures. In 1566, Diego de Landa – […]
Discovering two royal tombs at El Perú-Waka’ Excavations at the Maya city of Waka’ in Guatemala revealed a stone gallery buried within the palace acropolis. Inside its rooms were relics that told the extraordinary story of its construction, destruction, and reuse as a chamber for subterranean fire rituals. David Freidel, Griselda Pérez Robles, and Juan […]
Hundreds of enigmatic earthworks lay hidden for millennia beneath what was thought to be virgin rainforest. Who built them, and why? In searching for answers, Jennifer Watling discovered how ancient human activity holds the clues for future forest-management. The discovery in recent years of mysterious circular earthworks in western Amazonia is one of the most […]
Richard Hodges visits sites in the shadow of Chichén Itzá. Hotels, at their best, resemble oases in a desert. Mayaland – nestling in the shadow of Chichén Itzá, one of the New World’s Seven Wonders – is just such a place. Its civility and graciousness are rooted in the Carnegie expeditions to this Maya metropolis, […]
Inside Lapa do Santo, excavations are revealing the complex burial practices of an early Archaic community. André Strauss tells CWA about the grisly finds. Body mutilation, decapitation, defleshing, and possible cannibalism: these chilling descriptions seem more appropriate for a serial killer’s to-do list than for an archaeological project report. But as queasy as they might […]
Archaeologists have developed a highly-refined chronology for the two major Maya collapses using the largest set of radiocarbon dates ever obtained from a single site. The circumstances behind the Preclassic (2nd century AD) and Classic Maya (9th century AD) collapses – two periods of widespread urban abandonment across Mesoamerica – have long been the subject […]
Discovering the pinnacle of Ecuador Ecuador’s capital of Quito, high in the Andes mountains, is one of the world’s most breathtaking cities, as Tim Tatton-Brown explains. Situated in the High Andes of Ecuador, at well over 9,000 feet above sea-level, Quito is the highest and one of the most extraordinary capital cities in the world. […]
Home to over 21 million people, Mexico City is a glorious, sprawling, beautiful, and endlessly captivating capital. As the city with the largest number of museums in the world, it is packed with archaeological and architectural treasures that showcase an astounding cultural history. In 1519, Spanish Conquistador Hernán Cortés arrived in the region and witnessed […]
Archaeologists investigating the Late Formative Period temple complex at Pacopampa (featured in CWA 75) discovered Inca offerings deposited more than 1,000 years after the site was abandoned. The find suggests that ancestoral ceremonial centres maintained their spiritual connection with subsequent cultures long after their original inhabitants were lost to living memory. Archaeologists from the Pacopampa […]