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Chichen Itza

Towards a New History of the Mayan World: Morley’s Discoveries

The ancient Maya was an awesome civilization which spanned some 2,000 years. Remains of the civilization were discovered in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries attracting widespread interest. Part of the allure of the Maya is essentially that it is a ‘lost civilization’ which left ruined cities.   While the true history of the Maya civilization is still unknown, considerable progress has been made through exploration and research that has given us more answers, tracing periods of their growth, decline, and development until their eventual downfall after the Spanish Conquest.   Despite their lost civilization, the Maya made many advancements in mathematics, astronomy, calendric and writing systems, technology, commerce, art and architecture.   Public interest in ancient Mayan civilization grew in the second half of the 20th century, especially in Europe, following the publication of the first synthesis text on the subject: The Ancient Maya, a book written by archaeologist Sylvanus Griswold Morley.   Morley was one of the most important 20th century experts on Mayan history. He spent much of his life exploring and conducting archaeological research on various Mayan sites in Mexico and Central America, especially Chichén Itzá. Some of Morley’s discoveries …