Massive Ancient City Discovered in Guatemala

As the science of archeology advances, there is no doubt we will be in awe of what is found…


A new pyramid found south of Tikal’s Mundo Perdido. Image: PACUNAM/Canuto & Auld-Thomas




The Ruins of a Massive Ancient City Have Been Discovered in Guatemala
With the help of lasers and drones, scientists have found that Maya civilization was more advanced and populous than previously imagined.

by Becky Ferreira


“The ruins of an enormous Maya ‘megalopolis’ have been discovered in Guatemala with the help of the remote sensing technique LiDAR, according to a bombshell exclusive from National Geographic on Thursday. This vast lost city envelops sites like Tikal, Holmul, and Witzna—known for their temples and pyramids—but shows that these famous heritage areas are the tip of the iceberg of this lost urban network.


Hidden under the dense jungle canopies of the Maya Biosphere Reserve, more than 60,000 human-made features—homes, canals, quarries, highways, and more—have been identified in aerial imagery collected by an international collaboration of researchers headed by the PACUNAM Foundation, a Maya cultural and natural heritage organization.


This pre-Columbian civilization is estimated to have peaked some 1,200 years ago. The data suggests it may have supported a population of 10-15 million over the newly surveilled area of 800 square miles (2,100 square kilometers).


The advanced infrastructure, which includes agricultural terracing and elevated trade routes to prevent flooding in rainy seasons, has experts rethinking the dimensions and complexity of the Maya empire…”


For the rest (and lots of pictures), click here.




The Fantastical Art (and History) of Early Mardi Gras

It’s Mardi Gras season!


Darwin as an ass costume designed by Charles Briton for the “Missing Links” theme, Mistick Krewe of Comus, 1873: Carnival Collection, Louisiana Research Collection, Tulane University — Source.


From The Public Domain Review,


Illustrating Carnival: Remembering the Overlooked Artists Behind Early Mardi Gras

For more than 150 years the city of New Orleans has been known for the theatricality and extravagance of its Mardi Gras celebrations. Allison C. Meier looks at the wonderfully ornate float and costume designs from Carnival’s “Golden Age” and the group of New Orleans artists who created them.


“On March 6, 1889, the New York Times breathlessly reported on the recent Carnival spectacles in New Orleans. The Krewe of Rex’s pageant, themed around “Treasures of the Earth”, included a “Crystal” float “attended by figures in gorgeous costumes and prisms by the thousand”, and a “Diamond” float featuring “a rocky diamond dell” through which flowed “limpid streams where nymphs sported and played with the gems”. The Krewe of Proteus, meanwhile, dazzled with their “Hindoo Heavens” pageant, where in one scene appeared Agni “God of Fire” riding a ram that “strides the flames, attended by the fire sprites.” This opulent, and highly exoticized, interpretation of South Asian religion concluded with a tableau where “Vishnu, under the guise of a horse with silver wings, shatters the earth with his hoof and rises to the celestial abode.”


The modern American Mardi Gras owes much of its bombastic revelry to this late nineteenth-century “Golden Age” of Carnival design. From the invitations to the costumes to the hand fans carried by spectators, artists designed entire identities for each Krewe (a group that organizes a Carnival event). Carnival and its culminating day of festivities — Mardi Gras — was brought to the Louisiana area by the French in the late seventeenth century. Mardi Gras as it’s celebrated today is often linked to the Mistick Krewe of Comus, an Anglo-American group which in 1857 organized a debut parade themed “The Demon Actors in Milton’s Paradise Lost”. It was a departure from previous Carnivals that were more informal and tied to the Roman Catholic community. Following the Civil War, new Krewes emerged, each attempting to outdo the others with increasingly elaborate wood and papier-mâché floats pulled by teams of horses. One year it might be Medieval legends coming to life on the streets, the next flying monkeys of Chinese mythology terrorizing the crowds…”


For all of it (so many amazing illustrations!), click here.




The Mystery of the Clotilda, the last ship to bring slaves to the United States

A storm reveals evidence of an illegal deed and immense cruelty…



From The Washington Post,


The last U.S. slave ship was burned to hide its horrors. A storm may have unearthed it.

By Cleve R. Wootson Jr.


“In the summer of 1860, half a century after the United States banned the trans-Atlantic slave trade, Capt. William Foster sneaked 110 African slaves into Mobile, Ala. — and knew that the floating evidence of the illegal deed could get him killed.


The trip was more part of an obscene bet than any sort of profit-making scheme, but the Clotilda, the ship that made the months-long journey, held the telltale signs that it was an illegal slaver: containers for water and food, and the lingering stench of urine and feces and vomit and blood.


If caught, Foster and his crew could be imprisoned or executed, so they found a remote section of the Mobile-Tensaw Delta and torched the ship, igniting a mystery that would endure for a century and a half.


What happened to the Clotilda, the last ship to bring slaves to the United States?…”


For the rest, and a video, click here.



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