Travel: Immersed in Guatemala’s Mayan history; Doug Hansen; San Diego Union-Tribune

Honduras – Maya Site of Copan

Sitting atop the largest pyramid in the world in northern Guatemala’s ancient Mayan city El Mirador, I tried to imagine how the city below looked nearly 2,500 years ago.

Standing nearby, the site’s principal archaeologist, Dr. Richard Hansen, explained how this had been one of the greatest cities of the ancient world, filled with dozens of grand palaces, pyramids and temples painted in vivid red, green, yellow and white hues, and adorned with elaborately carved images. Now mostly covered by forest, the 10-square-mile city also boasted the world’s first “highway system” with hundreds of miles of raised causeways, up to 150 feet wide, sealed with a thick layer of white limestone plaster. I couldn’t help wondering how it was possible for such an advanced civilization to have disappeared so suddenly and completely?

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