Forgotten City: Archaeologists Discover Ruins of Ancient Seaport in Mexico

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In a lush river delta on Mexico's Gulf Coast, archaeologists have found temple mounds, ball courts and other traces of a sprawling seaport that flourished more than 1,500 years ago.

The site is 60 miles northeast of Veracruz.

A preliminary survey of the site disclosed the ruins of more than 100 earth-and-stone pyramids and other structures, some reaching heights of 130 feet, which had long remained hidden under dense vegetation.

The core city and its suburbs extended over 40 square miles and were occupied by thousands of people, possibly more than 20,000.

No one is prepared to say who these people were. The city, which existed between 100 and 600, rose after the disappearance of the Olmec civilization, once strong along the gulf coast, and centuries before the Aztecs of central Mexico.

The city was contemporary with the Classic period of the Maya, but they lived several hundred miles to the southeast. The city probably had strong cultural and trade ties with Teotihuacan, the powerful urban center near present-day Mexico City.

In any event, the ancient city, called El Pital for a nearby village, is thought by its discoverer to be one of the most important archaeological discoveries in the Veracruz region in more than 200 years.

The discovery was announced Thursday in Mexico City and Washington and was described in the current issue of National Geographic Research and Exploration, a quarterly journal of the National Geographic Society. …


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