Secrets Of Maya Technology With James Okon
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About the guest
James A. O’Kon, P.E. is a professional engineer with decades of experience
designing award-winning projects. His 40 years of investigating the engineering feats
and technology of the Maya have been presented in numerous presentations to scientific
symposia, and he was inducted into the Explorers Club as a National Fellow for his work
on the Maya. His discoveries of the Maya have been recognized by National Geographic
Magazine and on the History Channel, among other media.
About the book
For Immediate Release
Media Contact: Mallory Clay
Lost in the Rainforest, an Undiscovered Maya Structure
Reveals New Evidence of Ancient Technology
San Francisco, CA (April 22, 2012)--- In 1995, James O’Kon shocked the archaeological
world with the discovery of a massive, lost landmark of Maya engineering, the long span
suspension bridge at the ancient city of Yaxchilan in Mexico. Now considered to be the
longest bridge of the ancient world, the structure was overlooked by scientists who had
studied the site for more than a century.
In his new book, The Lost Secrets of Maya Technology, O’Kon recounts the thrilling realization
of his discovery and how he used modern methods to examine and prove the existence
of the spectacular bridge.
The dugout canoe slid through the swirling waters of the Usumacinta River. Spider
monkeys swung through the vines, and toucans and macaws flew amid the towering
tropical rainforest. We were traveling downriver to the Maya city of Yaxchilan. Sitting
in the bow, I did not realize that I would make a discovery that would change
my life forever.
My first glimpses of the riverine city were tall palace structures high on green hills
above the river. As we prepared to land on the south bank, I noticed a large ruined
structure rising above the water. To the north, a similar, less defined structure was
I said, "Hey, those two structures look like bridge piers. I think the Maya built a bridge
"Impossible," retorted the archaeologist behind me.
I turned to him and asked, "Why do you say that?"
He replied "Because the Maya were a Stone Age culture, without the technological capabilities
to build such complex structures."
Pointing to the hills, I said, "Who built those?"
He said, "They are simply stone and mortar, typical of a stone age culture."
Author, lecturer, and award-winning structural engineer, James O’Kon PE has explored
more than 50 remote Maya sites and researched Maya technological accomplishments for
more than 40 years. Combing his talents as a forensic engineer with evidence gleaned from
his archaeological investigations, he lifts the veil of mystery from the lost technology of the
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Page Two/Lost Secrets of Maya Technology
Former chairman of the forensic council of the American Society of Civil Engineers, O’Kon
used computers to integrate archaeological studies, aerial photos and maps to develop a 3-
dimensional model and determine the exact positioning and dimensions of the bridge.
What archaeologists had assumed was an insignificant rock pile turned out to be two piers
12 feet high and 35 feet in diameter, which supported a 600-foot-long, hemp rope span connecting
Yaxchilan with its agricultural domain in the Peten, now Guatemala and where
Tikal is situated––a breakthrough in Mayan history and culture.
The Lost Secrets of Maya Technology is an exciting documentation of O’Kon’s exploration, research,
forensic engineering and virtual reconstruction of lost technological achievements
that enabled the Maya to construct cities towering above the rainforest, water systems with
underground reservoirs, miles of paved jungle tracks, and the longest bridge in the ancient
He also explains how Maya engineers built multi-story buildings that were not exceeded in
height until the first skyscraper erected in the U.S. in 1885, how they invented the blast furnace
2,000 years before it was patented in England, and developed the vulcanization of
rubber more than 2,600 years before Goodyear.
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