October 13, 2012
Deep in Guatemala's Peten jungle, El Mirador hides under 2,000 years' worth of jungle overgrowth. Though the well-known Classical Maya ruins in Tikal National Park are frequently visited, the largest Preclassic Mayan city is much more difficult to access. El Mirador is actually over twice the size of Tikal, with over 80,000 people residing at the site from 300 B.C. to 150 A.D. The grandeur and size of the site suggest that there were already complex state societies in the Late Preclassic period, contrary to the popular thought that the Preclassic period was a formative period. El Mirador is only accessibly by foot, horse, mule, or helicopter, lying over 60km from the nearest road.