Mayan Aqueduct

A pre-columbian precedent for the LA Aqueduct system has been discovered by a team of archeologists from the University of Cincinatti, at Tikal in the jungles of Guatemala (circa AD 250 to 800) that filtered the water and allowed the switching of sources feeding the city of 60,000 to 90,000 people.

Source: National Geographic Society

“Water management in the ancient context can be dismissed as less relevant to our current water crisis because of its lack of technological sophistication. Nevertheless, in many areas of the world today, the energy requirements for even simple pumping and filtering devices – to say nothing about replacement-part acquisition – challenges access to potable sources. Tropical settings can be especially difficult regions because of high infectious disease loads borne by unfiltered water schemes. The ancient Maya, however, developed a clever rainwater catchment and delivery system based on elevated, seasonally charged reservoirs positioned in immediate proximity to the grand pavements and pyramidal architecture of their urban cores. Allocation and potability were developmental concerns from the outset of colonization. Perhaps the past can fundamentally inform the present, if we, too, can be clever.”

Part of this cleverness were the sand filters to purify the water, requiring importing sand from kilometers away…

Caption: Sand-sized authigenic quartz crystals taken from sand lensing within Tikal’s Corriental Reservoir. It’s posited that the quartz sand served as a water filter. Photo: Courtesy University of Cincinnati.

Original article:

Scarborough et al,’Water and sustainable land use at the ancient tropical city of Tikal, Guatemala’ Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, July 16, 2012 doi: 10.1073/pnas.1202881109

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