Ancient Maya City Discovered in Mexican Jungle

On Mexico’s southern Gulf coast, a team of archaeologists uncovered an Ancient Maya city deep in the jungle of the Campeche State. The researchers think the site served as an important population center in the period from 250 CE until the Classic Maya civilization’s decline around 900 CE. Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) announced the findings yesterday, June 20.

The ruins are dispersed throughout 125 acres of dense vegetation inside the Balamkú ecological reserve, where other Ancient Maya settlements have been uncovered in the past. The University of Houston’s National Center for Airborne Laser Mapping charted the thickly forested area in March with a LiDAR laser scan. A large cluster of ruins emerged on an extended hilltop surrounded by wetlands.

Listen beautiful relax classics on our Youtube channel.

From May through June, archaeologists led by Ivan Šprajc of the Research Center of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Art explored the elevated area. The work is part of a larger Mexican government initiative to explore the Maya Central Lowlands. (Just last month in neighboring Guatemala, a different team of historians found another forgotten city in the same Maya Lowlands region.)

One of Ocomtún’s namesake columns

Šprajc and his team found multiple pyramids almost 50 feet high, a ball court, three main squares, side courtyards, and a road. At the northwestern end of the thoroughfare, the team also found a large rectangular acropolis.

The archaeologists also discovered a number of stone cylinders they think were used in entryways and named the newly discovered city “Ocomtún.” The word translates to “stone column” in Yucatec Mayan, a language related to the one spoken by the Ancient Maya.

The team also found other artifacts nearby, including staircases and additional columns. Šprajc thinks these spaces may have been markets or places used for community rituals, but more research is needed to determine their exact function.

The researchers also found shrines in the centers of the courtyards. The lead archaeologist thinks these artifacts could speak to the city’s decline: The objects were built with materials taken from the surrounding buildings, which Šprajc believes could reflect population changes.

Historians have frequently attributed the collapse of the Ancient Maya civilization to extended drought, but some historians think the real reason may be more complex.

The city’s ruins cover an area of 125 acres.
Stairs leading up to a building in ruins


No votes yet.
Please wait...