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The site of Ojo de Agua, near the Mexico-Guatemala border, did not belong to a major civilisation like the Olmec, but there are impressive structures here that are about 50 to 100 years older than any found at Ceibal.
“[Ojo de Agua] appears to be the earliest known plaza-pyramid complex,” says Inomata.
Other pyramids in this region might predate Ceibal too, but their ages are hazy.
“We need more studies before we can determine if this was the point of origin of pyramids and associated ceremonial complexes.” Together, the evidence hints that the first Maya were influenced by people throughout Mesoamerica, and not just by the Olmec.
But how the Maya got started in the first place is no less mysterious.
Now newly discovered excavations have revealed that some Mayan ceremonial plazas and pyramids are centuries older than we thought – but leave obscure why they were built.
Despite the early Mayan monuments at Ceibal, it would take several centuries for the numerous sites in the area to link up and develop into a true civilisation.
Although small in number, Lev Tahor has attracted deep hostility in Israel and the Israeli press have closely charted the sect’s exodus from the US to Canada and on to Guatemala.
The dramatic collapse of the Mayan civilisation 1000 years ago is one of the world’s enduring archaeological mysteries.
This makes it 200 years older than other Mayan monuments and 200 years older than the monumental constructions at La Venta.
At the time that the Ceibal monuments were constructed, “La Venta could not have been a large, influential centre”, says Inomata.