Lost Maya City Found in Mexican Jungle

By Barber, Elizabeth | The Christian Science Monitor, June 21, 2013 | Go to article overview

Lost Maya City Found in Mexican Jungle


Barber, Elizabeth, The Christian Science Monitor


This is a week for found lost worlds.

Just weeks after a similar find was made in Cambodia, archaeologists have uncovered an ancient Maya city that had been hidden for hundreds of years in the Yucatan's jungle-covered Campeche province, a find that researchers said could tell us more about how the advanced, still mysterious empire presided over its vast lands at its height.

The abandoned city, called Chactun, is one of the largest ever found in Mexico's Yucatan peninsula, teeming with some 30,000 or 40,000 people during the late Classic period of Maya civilization between 600 and 900 AD, after which year the civilization spun into decline. That would have made it somewhat smaller than Tikal, the fabled Mayan city once home to some 90,000 in what is now Guatemala, Reuters reported.

"It is one of the largest sites in the Central Lowlands, comparable in its extent and the magnitude of its buildings with Becan, Nadzcaan and El Palmar in Campeche," said archaeologist Ivan Sprajc in a statement from Mexico's National Institute of Anthropology and History, translated from Spanish by LiveScience.

The city was recently spotted in aerial photographs that had been snapped some 15 years ago by the National Commission for the Knowledge and Use of Biodiversity. A team of archeologists then spent about three weeks cutting a 10-mile path into the opaque jungle to reach the site marked on their aerial map.

So far, the archeologists have found in the 54-acre stretch some 15 pyramids, one of which is about 75 feet tall, as well as ball courts that indicate the city was likely a prominent one in the empire.

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