The Majesty of the Mayans

Dr. Richard Hansen University of Utah

Dr Richard Hansen, a Professor of Anthropology at the University of Utah, has devoted his adult life to understanding the Mayan site of El Mirador. He has shown how advanced this society was at a much earlier time period then what was previously known. This period is known as the Preclassical period in Mayan civilization.

El Mirador is located in Northern Guatemala. This Preclassical period of Mayan civilization, when El Mirador was built and operated, is dated from about 2000 BC to 250 AD. The Classic period of the Mayans runs from about 250 AD to 900 AD. The Postclassic period is the time after this from about 900 AD to the 16th Century.

The Mayans were the first great civilization in the Mesoamerican area, developing far earlier then other great civilizations in the region. The Incan civilization began around the year 1200 AD, peaking several hundred years later. The Aztec civilization began about a century after the Incas. They were also one of five early civilizations to invent sophisticated writing.

Dr. Hansen discusses some of the amazing achievements of the Mayans during this Preclassicald period. His research has, for example, uncovered huge pyramid structures in El Mirador that rival the pyramids of Egypt in terms of volume. He’s also uncovered giant causeways, like early highways, connecting various building’s and cities within El Mirador, that rival anything the Romans built in terms of mass and width. Dr. Hansen also discusses the amazing farming abilities of the Mayans and why they settled in the swampy area that is El Mirador. He also discusses the sophisticated, and highly structured, government of the Mayans focused around a king who was sometimes female.

Dr. Hansen concludes by discussing his current efforts to excavate the area, raise funds to continue his work, and the ideas he has for the future use of the site and the surrounding area to protect El Mirador for future generations.