The origins of 3D printing discovered in a new Maya city! | Sculpteo Blog

The origins of 3D printing discovered in a new Maya city!

Posted By Lucie Gaget on Apr 1, 2018 | 0 comments

We surely still have a lot of things to discover regarding 3D printing. But this time, we’ve just discovered that additive manufacturing is way older than what we thought. New Mayan codices found in the Guatemalan jungle just confirmed that the Maya civilization was already using the 3D printing technology. Sculpteo had an exclusive opportunity to meet an international team of archeologists and got access to an outblasting document!


We are going to see in this blogpost what has been discovered and what we’ve learned about the Maya civilization thanks to these new codices. Let’s talk a little about Maya, but for once, we are not talking about the 3D modeling software!


A new Maya city and new codices discovered


A Maya city discovered in the Guatemalan jungle

You may have heard about this big news earlier in 2018: a new Mayan city has been discovered, hidden under the Guatemalan jungle. Researchers have been using aerial laser mapping and found an entire Maya city.

In this vast area, researchers actually found buildings, Mayan fields, pyramids, and new documents. We are just about to learn more about Mayan technologies and knowledge.


A new codex questioning the origins of 3D printing

The researchers on place found precious documents: new authentic Maya codices. But, by looking at these documents, the researchers actually found something new, that they hadn’t seen before. Here is an extract of the new documents:


On this leaf, a precise and disturbing detail attracted the attention of the researchers and specialists of Mayan civilization: What is this codex?


This document has been found a few months ago, but it took a while to actually determine what this codex was representing. Indeed, a lot of professionals have been called to decipher this new sign.

Historians, epigraphists, scientists and archaeologists all agreed and revealed the significance of this codex today: It is an additive manufacturing machine. In other words, this codex is representing a 3D printer.

Polly Amide, one of the archaeologist who helped for the identification of this codex testifies, “The Maya civilization was really advanced on many different subjects such as astronomy, architecture, mathematics… One thing is now sure: these new codices are the proof that they knew how to use a 3D printer! We are still analyzing these new elements, to get a better understanding of their use of 3D. We are pretty sure that they also invented some G-Code to use their 3D printers.”

These Mayan codices are dated between 250 and 1450 AD. If we believe these codices, 3D printing is quite an old manufacturing technique! 


How did the Maya civilization use 3D printing


Monumental architecture: The end of a mystery!

Now we know it, Maya people certainly used XL 3D printers to build their temples. As we saw in our previous blog post, these concrete 3D printers are allowing to build impressive structures, on place and in remote areas. No other tools are needed to 3D print at an architectural scale.

This discovery is opening new perspectives: Could this also be the building technique used for the construction of Egyptian pyramids? “Certainly…”, confesses Polly Amide, the archaeologist, overwhelmed by emotion. To learn more about 3D architecture, check out our blog post about 3D printing in the construction field.



New researches are beginning

New researches will help to determine what was exactly their use of 3D printing. Was it exclusively for architecture projects? Were they able to 3D print weapons or furniture? Did they use a 3D printing service?

Indeed, we are only discovering now that 3D printing is an amazing tool for the medical or fashion industry, to create homes and jewelry. But maybe, Maya people already knew all of this? This discovery is actually calling all archaeologists and historians work into question.


The Maya civilization still has a lot of secrets, and a lot of things to teach us. And if you were looking for information about Maya, the 3D modeling software, be sure to take a look at our tutorial.


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