Ancient Mayans masters of water pressure
Researchers in Chiapas, Mexico, unearth pipes, fountains and intricate systems of water management.
Wed, Dec 23 2009 at 8:17 PM
ANCIENT AQUEDUCTS: Scientists discover Mayan structures to give the Romans a run for their money. (Photo: Wolfgang Staudt/Flickr)
Scientists have discovered exciting water technology at the palace Palenque in Chiapas, Mexico. According to msnbc.com's LiveScience, the 6,000 or so Mayan residents who lived there 1,200 years ago had "arguably the most unique and intricate system of water management known anywhere in the Maya lowlands."
These ancient people built acqueduct structures that managed streams flowing through the landscape, rerouting the water to prevent erosion, help their agriculture, and manage water for the people living in the palace. Researchers from Pennsylvania State University found structures that used downward slopes to create fountains and, according to lead researcher Kirk French, structures that could indicate running water for toilets. The Mayans' conscious manipulation of flowing water is a huge revelation for archeologists. Before French's discoveries, the common belief was that "New World" residents did not have water-pressure technology until the arrival of the Spanish. It appears that ancient Mayans devised this ability 1,000 years ahead of their European visitors' arrival.
Another interesting detail about the structures at Palenque, according to LiveScience, is the use of water for luxury. Since the streams nearby were so plentiful, the people would not have needed to manipulate the water sources within the palace for survival. French said, "water-pressure technology would have been useful through the display of power and knowledge."
These findings, along with ceramic tubes unearthed throughout Mexico, may help change public perception of the ancient Mayan and shed light on their advanced engineering capabilities.
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