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Fri Jan 8, 2021, 01:07 PM

Ancient Mayan civilization used advanced water treatment technology [View all]

Posted by Deanna Conners in HUMAN WORLD | January 7, 2021
The oldest known example of a water treatment system in the Western Hemisphere was recently discovered in Guatemala.

The ancient temples of the Mayan city of Tikal rise above the forest in Guatemala. Image via jjmusgrove/ Flickr.

Scientists have uncovered evidence of an advanced water treatment system, built more than 2,000 years ago, in the ancient Mayan city of Tikal in the tropical forests of Guatemala. The Mayans used the mineral zeolite in the treatment system to filter out harmful microorganisms and toxic chemicals. This system represents the oldest known example of a water treatment system in the Western Hemisphere. The new research was published in the peer-reviewed journal Scientific Reports on October 22, 2020.

At its peak, the ancient Mayan city of Tikal is believed to have been the home to at least 60,000 people, and scientists have discovered the remains of more than 3,000 structures located around the city. The city was located in the area that is now Guatemala in Central America.

Location of the ancient city of Tikal. Image via Britannica.

Scientists collected sediment cores from three drinking water reservoirs in Tikal that were used to store water from approximately 2,200 to 1,100 years ago. Mineral analyses revealed the presence of zeolite at one particular site known as the Corriental reservoir. Zeolite is an aluminosilicate mineral that has many pores and is an excellent material for trapping drinking water contaminants like harmful microorganisms and toxic metals. Because of its unique properties, zeolite is often used in modern water purification systems.


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