The astronomy, calendar, and apocalyptic predictions have been well documented, but there's one part of Maya history that researchers have yet to agree upon: how the ancient civilization actually came to be.
For years, Maya researchers have adhered to one of two theories. Some argue that the pre-Columbian culture developed virtually on its own and free of influence; others believe it was a direct offshoot from the older Olmec civilization — a group that emerged about 3,600 years ago in what’s now the southern Gulf region of Mexico.
But Drs. Takeshi Inomata and Daniela Triadan, husband-and-wife anthropologists from the University of Arizona, believe neither theory is totally accurate. In a study published today in the journal Science, the researchers claim that the Maya likely developed under the influence of not just the Olmec, but an array of other cultures, as well.