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Archeologists excavating a 2,500-year-old Maya city in Guatemala have unearthed buildings and massive carvings indicating the presence of a royal metropolis of more than 10,000 people at a time when scientists previously believed the Maya were only simple farmers.
New studies at the Peten jungle site of Cival have unearthed the oldest known carved portrait of a Maya king and two massive stone masks, discoveries indicating that the Maya developed a complex and sophisticated civilization hundreds of years earlier than previously believed.
The city of towering pyramids and sweeping plazas is also yielding other surprising artifacts, including jade and ceramic offerings to the gods that may mark the beginnings of the Maya dynasties, Vanderbilt University archeologist Francisco Estrada-Belli said Tuesday at a National Geographic Society news conference.