A view of a Maya-built canal.
Archaeologists have unearthed new landscaping and engineering feats, including the largest ancient dam made by the Maya who inhabited the Central America.
A multi-university team led by the researchers from University of Cincinnati, through sediment coring and mapping, identified the structure at the pre-Columbian city of Tikal located in northern Guatemala, which is known as a paramount urban center of the ancient Maya.
Constructed from cut stone, rubble and earth, the newly discovered dam unravels the sophisticated Mayan water and land-use management systems.
The Tikal dam, which stretched more than 260 feet in length and was 33 feet high, is estimated to have a capacity of around 20 million gallons of water in a man-made reservoir.
Researchers claim that the findings shed new light on how the Maya conserved and consumed their natural resources to support a highly complex society for over 1,500 years despite environmental challenges such as periodic drought as well as tropical ecology.
“The overall goal of the UC research is to better understand how the ancient Maya supplied a population at Tikal of perhaps 60,000 to 80,000 inhabitants and an estimated population of five million in the overall Maya lowlands by 700 CE,” said the anthropologist Vernon Scarborough from University of Cincinnati.
At Tikal, the ancient Maya collected every drop of water, and then used sand boxes to filter the water as it entered into the reservoirs, the team identified.
"These filtration beds consisted of quartz sand, which is not naturally found in the greater Tikal area. The Maya of Tikal traveled at least 20 miles to obtain the quartz sand to create their water filters," said Nicholas Dunning from University of Cincinnati.