Ancient Mayan City Discovered

Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History / Handout via Reuters
A part of a stone facade is seen in Campeche State, Mexico, in this photo distributed on June 20.

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) — A previously unknown ancient Maya city has been discovered in the jungles of southern Mexico, the country’s anthropology institute said last month, adding it was likely an important center more than a thousand years ago.

The city includes large pyramid-like buildings, stone columns, three plazas with “imposing buildings” and other structures arranged in almost-concentric circles, the INAH institute said.

INAH said the city, which it has named Ocomtun — meaning “stone column” in the Yucatec Maya language — would have been an important center for the peninsula’s central lowland region between 250 A.D. and 1000 A.D.

It is located in the Balamku ecological reserve on the country’s Yucatan Peninsula and was discovered during a search of a largely unexplored stretch of jungle larger than Luxembourg. The search took place between March and June using aerial laser mapping (LiDAR) technology.

The Ocomtun site has a core area, located on high ground surrounded by extensive wetlands, that includes several pyramid-like structures up to 15 meters high, lead archaeologist Ivan Sprajc said in a statement.

The city also had a ball court. Pre-Hispanic ball games, widespread throughout the Maya region, consist of passing a rubber ball representing the sun across a court without the use of hands and getting it through a small stone hoop. The game is believed to have had an important religious purpose.