Diego García de Palacio chances upon the ancient Mayan city of Copan.

This year, 2012, is the year that the world is going to end. At least according to Mayan calendars it is. It goes almost without saying that our modern society is intrigued by all ancient civilizations, but even more so for Mesoamerican civilizations, like the Mayans.

On this day March 8th, in 1576, Diego García de Palacio explores the city of Copan.  Palacio was a Spanish explorer sent by the Spanish crown to explore. At first people did not believe Palacio’s tales, and it wasn’t until 1860 that the stories were proven true. Around that same time his story was published in British newspapers, and since then the interest in this ancient civilization never died down.

They Mayans had a full language and were literate. They were advanced in math, science, writing, and of course architecture. Copan, amongst many other Mayan cities, is famous for its architecture. One of the reasons why the buildings are so massive is because of something called Iconoclastic Phenomenon that each time a new ruler came about he would deface the previous crest and build on top of what had previously been built. In essence, Diego García de Palacio was one of the first anthropologists because unlike the conquistadors, he actually interacted with rather than conquered the people.