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7,000-year-old Maya remains found in Mexico

Sky News logo Sky News 08/08/2018
Mexican archaeologists find oldest Mayan remains in cave. Pic: INAH © Reuters Mexican archaeologists find oldest Mayan remains in cave. Pic: INAH

The remains of an ancient civilisation have been discovered by archaeologists in Mexico.

The bones are thought to be up to 7,000 years old, placing them at around the time when humans shifted from being hunters to a more sedentary lifestyle, the experts say.

The three Maya skeletons were found in the Puyil cave, which is in the Tacotalpa municipality of Tabasco state, located in southern Mexico.

One set is up to 7,000 years old, while the other two are thought to date back around 4,000 years.

Mexican archaeologists find oldest Mayan remains in cave. Pic: INAH © Reuters Mexican archaeologists find oldest Mayan remains in cave. Pic: INAH

The remains are on display in Mexico City.

Archaeologist Alberto Martos said: "Seven thousand years old is what we've just placed it, which is the period of transition from being hunters to sedentarism.

"There were different groups during this time that used the caves, clearly it wasn't a domestic cave.

"In prehistoric times it was probably used for rituals and cemeteries so as to dispose of remains of people.

Mexican archaeologists find oldest Mayan remains in cave. Pic: INAH

Mexican archaeologists find oldest Mayan remains in cave. Pic: INAH
© Reuters

"For the Maya, it was a cave of ancestors.

"This cave was used by the Maya, they respected the remains that were already there and left their own remains inside."

The Maya were one of the most dominant civilisations in Mesoamerica and they built cities with elaborate ceremonial buildings and massive stone pyramids from what we now know as Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador.

They made advances in agriculture, mathematics and calendar-making, reaching the peak of their progress around the sixth century AD.

Mexican archaeologists find oldest Mayan remains in cave. Pic: INAH © Reuters Mexican archaeologists find oldest Mayan remains in cave. Pic: INAH

But by 900AD, their stone cities were mostly abandoned and experts have not been able to determine exactly why.

Theories include overpopulation, military conflict or a major environmental event, such as extreme drought.

In January last year, a study used radiocarbon dating and data from ceramics and excavations to chart increases and decreases in population and building activity at the archaeological site of Ceibal in Guatemala during the Maya period.

The study's lead author Takeshi Inomata said: "It's not just a simple collapse, but there are waves of collapse.

In Pictures: Amazing archeological finds (Provided by GES Photos)


"First there are smaller waves, tied to warfare and some political instability, then comes the major collapse, in which many centres got abandoned.

"Then there was some recovery in some places, then another collapse."

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