Efforts to construct the $8 billion Maya Train project have yet again been thwarted by the discovery of an ancient Maya archaeological site comprised of more than 300 buildings, according to Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH). Construction in the Yucatán peninsula has been ongoing since 2020.
Last Thursday, in a regular news briefing held by Mexican president Andrés Manuel López Obrador, INAH director Diego Prieto confirmed that an archaeological survey along section 5 of the project, between Playa del Carmen and Tulum, has uncovered a significant archeological site. More than 300 buildings have already been found in the vicinity—some of which stand at over 26 feet tall.
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The Maya Train project was developed to connect Yucatán’s historical sites in an effort to encourage tourism and promote local indigenous cultures. Many archaeologists, environmental activists, and communities, however, claim that resort developments will have the opposite effect.
“Engineering adjustments are being made to the southern part of section 5 [of the railroad] in order to protect an impressive archaeological site that we’ve recognized as Paamul II,” said Prieto during the conference.
Prieto also presented information on the findings, as well as schematic maps of what they believe the settlement might have looked like. With only 11 percent of the archaeological review completed on section 5, however, divers are currently searching caverns and cenotes in the area.
Additionally, over 25,000 immovable assets have been uncovered along all sections of the railroad traversed so far. This includes ancient roads, 431 ceramic pots, and 423 bones from human burials.
The site is set to be protected as an ecological and archaeological corridor. The unearthed artifacts are expected to go on view at museums throughout the country.
While the Maya Train project is currently delayed, it is slated to open by December 2023, along with the new Tulum Airport.