Ancient Maya City Developed a Modern Water Filtration System with Present Day Materials

Archaeologists have discovered a modern water filtration system while working at the ancient Maya city in Northern Guatemala;…
Ancient maya city

Archaeologists have discovered a modern water filtration system while working at the ancient Maya city in Northern Guatemala; the filtration system is believed to be millennia ahead of its time. The filtration system is built from the Corriental reservoir, an important source of safe drinking water for the northern Maya.

The use of quartz sand and zeolite at the channel’s mouth would have gotten rid of most contaminants such as cyanobacteria and heavy metals and this is still utilized in modern water filters.

What’s interesting is this system would still be effective today and the Maya discovered it more than 2,000 years ago.

Kenneth Tankersley, associate professor of anthropology

It would be almost 2,000 years from the supposed date of the completion of the filtration system at Tikal. The materials used for this filtration system would soon be employed in Europe.

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It was probably through very clever empirical observation that the ancient Maya saw this particular material was associated with clean water and made some effort to carry it back.

UC geography professor Nicholas Dunning

Dunning and Tankersley published a researched paper on the discovery. Water availability and quality would have become a major problem for Maya civilization in the 3rd century BC, according to a statement on the university website.

The limestone soil indicated that water never stayed there for long, and during drought, standing water such as the Corriental reservoir could be contaminated with bacteria.

The main water sources for the site core of Tikal, especially the Temple and Palace Reservoirs were seriously compromised as sources of drinking water by the end of the Late Classic period.

Dunning and Tankersley

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