Evidence for the oldest known zeolite water purification filtration system occurs in the undisturbed sediments of the Corriental reservoir at the Maya city of Tikal, in northern Guatemala. The Corriental reservoir was an important source of drinking water at Tikal during the Late Preclassic to Late Classic cultural periods. X-ray diffraction analysis (XRD) and six AMS radiocarbon ages show that between ~ 2185 and 965 cal yr BP, the drinking water in the Corriental reservoir water was filtered through a mixture of zeolite and coarse, sand-sized crystalline quartz. Zeolite is a non-toxic, three-dimensionally porous, crystalline, hydrated aluminosilicate with natural adsorbent and ion exchange properties, which removes harmful microbes as well as disperse insoluble and soluble toxins from drinking water. The occurrence of zeolite in Corriental reservoir sediments expands our understanding of the earliest history of water purification and the long-term sustainability of an ancient Maya city. Read the full article here.
Tankersley, K.B., Dunning, N.P., Carr, C. et al. Zeolite water purification at Tikal, an ancient Maya city in Guatemala. Sci Rep 10, 18021 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-75023-7