Excavations at three sites in Guatemala's Petén rain forest have revealed previously unknown facets of both the early and later stages of ancient Maya civilization.
Work at one extensive site, called Cival, indicates that during its heyday, from 500 B.C. to A.D. 100, the city housed perhaps 10,000 people and was ruled by kings who lived in an elaborate ceremonial center, says Francisco Estrada-Belli of Vanderbilt University in Nashville.
Artifacts from Cival's main plaza include two huge stucco masks that portray Maya gods. A cache of jade pieces probably served as an offering to the gods. An inscribed stone slab shows a striding figure wearing a chest plate decorated with symbols of kingsh