El Mirador History
El Mirador is located within the tropical rainforest approximately 330 kilometers north of Guatemala City and 7 kilometers south of the border between Guatemala and Mexico, in the province of Peten.
The place located 105 kilometers northwest of Tikal, within a tropical forest that spreads out around the site in a region of geological structure that involves little undulating hills of calcareous rock mingled with shallows.
Despite this inhospitable environment, the place is one of the more remarkable in the Mayan World. The urban area of El Mirador spread over 10 and 15 square kilometers.
El Mirador’s temples are the most prominent temples never constructed by the ancient Mayans. The center of the old city, divided into two groups (the group west and the Danta complex or group east) include the Acropolis, ample temples and numerous terraces, domestic plazas, all connected and marked off by a system of walls and elevated causeways.
The first archeologists have known about the existence of El Mirador since 1930. After the first description of Sylvanus Morley in 1937-1938, the place was visited later for Ruppert and Denison in an expedition of the Carnegie Institute. However, the significant early explorations were the Ian Graham of the Peabody Museum of Harvard University in the period from 1962 to 1970.
These expeditions made out of the place recognition, they measured structures, they took superficial collections, they created exploratory wells and produced the place’s first map.
Graham’s work reveals the problems that the Mirador would cause for the Mayan archeology for the first time. The location of the place is far from the nuclear zone in the northeast of the Peten, where it was thought that Mayan civilization had occurred. This place, always overlooked in the interpretations of the evolution of the Mayan culture, using the early explorations of the Peabody Museum, was revealed as one of the more prominent Mayans sites and with the most prominent temples of the whole Mayan zone.
However, structures lack the typical characteristics of the architecture of the Mayans of the classical period. There are not the vaults molded in shelves; The construction has an atypical style; Pyramids are too big and extended; And the close-fitting monuments, stelae, and altars are exceptionally only a few despite being the ceremonial zone so giant-sized.
The excavations of wells of a demonstration done by Joyce Marcus during an expedition of the Peabody Museum in 1970 increased the mystery, more of the 90 % were monochrome of the pre-classical period.
Nevertheless, the doubts put forward by the expeditions of the Peabody Museum, destiny to 1978 that started up was not the archeological studies of the extensive remains of the Mirador. Meanwhile, the specialists of the Mayan culture continued interpreting the development of Mayan civilization based on the findings in the highlands, Belize and a few sites in the Peten (Tikal, Uaxactún, Ceibal, and Altar de Los Sacrificios).
However, in 1978, Bruce Dahlin a project sponsored by the Catholic University and the Natural Science Foundation to explore shallows and causeways lifted around the place in short to define the environment and the base of subsistence.
Surprisingly they did not find any evidence at all that shallows used for the intensive farming with chinampas.
In fact, the base of subsistence of the population in this ancient city even now keeps on being an enigma. Dahlin’s explorations and the Peabody Museum have developed a dedicated system of elevated causeways that spread out through the shallows and swamps that surround the place, to little bordering sites, like Nakbe and Tintal, placed 20 kilometers from El Mirador. It seems that a region supported the dense population of the lookout.
From 1979 to 1982, a project coordinated, by Ray Matheny, of the Brigham Young University and Bruce Dahlin, of the Catholic University (sponsored by New World Archaeological Foundation, The National Science Foundation, and The National Geographic Society), began with the line of a map and excavations in the ceremonial zone.
This project document immensity and the density of the center and put forward new questions and problems about the chronology of the evolution of Mayan civilization. The excavations of the Brigham Young University inside the ceremonial structures recovered monochrome pre-typical potter’s ware mostly.
In an evaluation of the ceramics obtained by Elizabeth Chambers in her excavations of the earthen works of the group west, executed project date these works (possibly used for the defense) as of the pre-classical late period.
These preliminary indications evoked many questions about the opinions accepted on the development of Mayan civilization. It believed that the Mayan culture had come to blossoming in the classical period, of 300 d.c to 900 D. C The pre-classical period, of 1500 A.C. To 300 D.C.
They had considered themselves like a period of gradual increases in the population and gain the complexity of the society, that it culminated in the first significant constructions made by the crowdsourcing, like the modest pre-typical temples of the northeast of Peten.
While the small early chieftainships received stimuli of the most advanced cultures of the late pre-classic in the highlands (for instance, Kaminal Juyu and Chalchuapa).
However, the pilot studies in the mirador indicate that the giant-sized ceremonial architecture and the population proto-urban they can have caught up within an early date in the late pre-classic, centuries before what imagined.