The Mayans were a civilisation known for their architecture, mathematics and astronomical beliefs, who date back to as far as 2000BC. Many of their impressive constructions can still be seen in the jungles of southeast Mexico, Guatemala, Belize and western parts of Honduras. Even to this day, archaeologists are constantly battling against local looters to get their hands on some of the most exquisite finds to learn more about this advanced society.
However, there is one discovery that has topped them all over the years, it was revealed during Amazon Prime’s “Mayan treasure hunters” series.
The 1990 documentary featured an interview with a Guatemala criminal who told a tale of a “priceless find.”
The man, who did not reveal his name, detailed: “Picking sapodilla leaves [to make chewing gum] is the only job that pays money out here – at least eight or nine dollars a day.
“You compare that with finding a good piece, maybe worth $20,000 (£15,560) – that’s a fortune and you could live happily forever.
“Eight years ago a find was sold for $90,000 (£70,000).
“And before that, an archaeologist at the site of El Mirador took away a human skeleton made of jade – the whole skeleton was intact.
“The price? You couldn’t say – priceless – it would be in the millions”.
Archaeologist are constantly battling against local looters in a bid to salvage any remains left behind by this intriguing civilisation.
A 36 year long Guatemalan Civil War, which ended in 1996, left more than 200,000 people dead and half a million driven from their homes in the jungle.
The genocide against Mayan people largely took place during the reign of Efraín Ríos Montt.
The Guatemalan President instituted a campaign of state terror intended to destroy the Mayans in the name of countering “communist subversion” and ridding the country of its culture.
Also known as Operation Sofia, the military followed through with "scorched earth policies" which allowed them to destroy whole villages, including killing livestock, destroying cultural symbols, destroying crops, and murdering civilians.
In some areas, government forces killed about 40% of the total population; the campaign destroyed at least 626 Mayan villages.
Now looters try to get their hands on ancient artefacts left behind that can be sold on to American buyers.