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  • Nate Scharping

The Lost World of the Maya is Finally Emerging From the Jungle

From massive fortresses to sprawling suburbs, a bold new vision of the vanished Maya civilization takes shape.

Thomas Garrison pauses in the middle of the jungle.


“That’s the causeway right there,” he says, pointing into a random patch of greenery in the Guatemalan lowlands.


I squint, trying to make out features in the tangled rainforest undergrowth. There’s a small lump, rising no more than a foot or two from the forest floor.


The Ithaca College archaeologist has spotted the buried remnants of a Maya road, a ribbon of limestone that once cut through the wrinkled landscape. We’re a full day’s walk from civilization, standing in the remains of a once-populous kingdom. The road before us is just one piece of a vast network leading to terraced fields, reservoirs, defensive fortifications and more, all sprawling invisibly throughout the forest.


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