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No. 103: Jan-Feb 1996

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A Remarkable Mayan Suspension Bridge

We tend to think Mayan engineering only in terms of those impressive pyramids at Tikal, Copan, and many other sites, but they were accomplished builders of roads and bridges, too.

"Scientists working at the Mayan ceremonial center of Yaxchilan, Mexico, have discovered the remains of a sophisticated 600-foot-long suspension bridge built in the seventh century A.D. The bridge, which spanned the Usumacinta River, had massive concrete piers, a rope-cable suspension system anchored to stone mechanisms, towers, and a bed of hard wooden planks. It probably stood for 500 years above water 40 to 150 feet deep, with a steady current of 5 to 7 m.p.h., which increases to 10 to 15 m.p.h. at flood stage. Civil engineer and archeologist Jame O'Kon says the bridge was the world's longest until 1377, when a larger one was built in Italy."

(Anonymous; "Mayan Suspension Bridge," INFO Journal, no. 73, p. 44, Summer 1995. Source cited: Washington Times, February 26, 1995. INFO = International Fortean Organization)

Comment. One wonders why such a talented society collapsed so suddenly!

From Science Frontiers #103, JAN-FEB 1996. 1996-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:


  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987