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June 27 2013

How Many Mayans Were There?


The traces of ancient corn farms could reveal how many people lived in a legendary Maya city, a new study suggests.

The pyramid-filled Maya site of Tikal in Guatemala is one of the largest archaeological complexes in Central America. The vast city-state had a long run, flourishing from roughly 600 B.C. until A.D. 900 when the Maya civilization mysteriously collapsed. A group of scientists recently revisited the site, not to hunt for lost treasures or artifacts, but to look for clues in the soil chemistry that might reveal the population of Tikal in its prime.

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