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April 28 2013

Maya Sun Observatory Hints at Origin of Civilization


The oldest ancient Maya ceremonial compound ever discovered in the Central American lowlands dates back 200 years before similar sites pop up elsewhere in the region, archaeologists announced today (April 25). The recently excavated plaza and pyramid would have likely served as a solar observatory for rituals.

The finding at a site called Ceibal suggests that the origins of the Maya civilization are more complex than first believed. Archaeologists hotly debate whether the Maya -- famous for their complex calendar system that spurred apocalypse rumors last year -- developed independently or whether they were largely inspired by an earlier culture known as the Olmec. The new research suggests the answer is neither.

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