15-year-old discovers possible Mayan ruins using Google Earth

10 May 2016

With a bit of ingenuity and the widely-available, free mapping tool Google Earth, a 15-year-old boy has only gone and potentially discovered Mayan ruins that had been lost to the ages from his bedroom.

The ancient Mayan civilisation spread itself across Central America more than 2,000 years ago as masters of architecture and mathematics, but perhaps it’s best known for its Mayan calendar and interpretation of astronomy, which, it turns out, are still useful today.

According to The Independent, William Gadoury of Quebec is not only quite the fan of history, but something of a cartographer, too, which led to an unlikely discovery.

Future Human

By analysing where Mayan cities are located using Google Earth, Gadoury determined that the cities almost perfectly aligned with one of the civilisation’s three-starred constellations.

The only problem was that, so far, only two of the three cities were found in this constellation, but with the help of Google Earth, Gadoury said he may have found where X, or in this case the square, marks the spot.

The images, which appear to show an unnatural square in the dense forests of Mexico, were provided by the Canadian Space Agency and then mapped onto Google Earth.

Mayan city

The satellite imagery with rings showing the location of the possible city. Image via CSA

Inaccessible to previous researchers

Until now, the sheer density of the vegetation around the area where the mysterious square is located has proven too difficult for researchers to venture into, but now, with Gadoury’s findings, there might be more impetus to make the extra effort.

As its discoverer, Gadoury has decided to call the possible city K’aak Chi, which in Mayan means ‘mouth of fire’ and, speaking of his use of satellite imagery to find it, he said: “There are linear features that would suggest there is something underneath that big canopy. There are enough items to suggest it could be a manmade structure.”

Adding credence to the likelihood of K’aak Chi actually being a city, Dr Armand La Rocque, from the University of New Brunswick, said the imagery appears to show a pyramid, but also the existence of a street network.

“A square is not natural, it is mostly artificial and can hardly be attributed to natural phenomena,” he said.

“If we add these together, we have a lot of indication there might be a Mayan city in the area.”

It will now be up to Gadoury to convince his future archaeological peers that it is actually a long-lost Mayan city when he presents his findings next year at Brazil’s International Science Fair.

Mayan ruins image via Shutterstock

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic