As per a recent study published in the journal ‘Nature Human Behaviour’, scientists have found almost 500 ancient ceremonial complexes, many of which were used by the Maya and the Olmecs civilizations, hidden underneath modern-day southern Mexico. The sites were discovered using Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) technology, which could detect three-dimensional archaeological structures below the surface.
Most discoveries are smaller than the largest monument, Aguada Fénix, which measures over 1,400 meters in length with a uniquely mysterious design influence that was not previously known within the ancient Mayan civilization. The researchers identified a previously unseen layout in the ancient Olmec city of San Lorenzo, which appears as a repetitive structure with a recurring motif among the ancient Mayan structures that appeared much later.
Also, as per the LIDAR data recorded, 62 unique sites were observed in the area that date back to as early as 1400 BC. These areas are believed to be used as areas where spiritual rituals were held, and people used to gather and watch the processions together.
The team calls this design the Middle Formative Usumacinta pattern and its related variants. It suggests that interactions and influence within the Olmecs and the Mayan communities were more rampant than previously thought. The two communities were very interlinked and took inspiration from each other. Researchers believe that the two societies built their communities and cities alongside each other. The ceremonial spaces were used for ritual purposes, and some were oriented to align with the sunrise on certain dates in the Mesoamerican calendar.
However, further investigation is required to understand the historical importance and evolution of such massive historical ritual complexes.