Two Ancient Maya Cities Unearthed In Mexican Jungle
by Justine Alford
Photo credit: Ivan Sprajc. The monster mouth facade at Lagunita.
Archeologists are starting to unlock even more Maya secrets with the exciting discovery of two ancient cities in a Mexican forest.
The cities, which were found in the state of Campeche, Yucatan peninsula, remained undiscovered for centuries as they were cloaked in dense vegetation, appearing as nothing more than mounds of grass and trees to the untrained eye. Archeologists working in Central America know all too well what usually lies beneath these grassy humps, but this particular site had been largely inaccessible for many years and thus remained untouched.
According to expedition leader Ivan Sprajc, the team located the cities with the assistance of aerial photographs, Discovery News reports. The site is actually close to another Maya city called Chactun that was also discovered by Sprajc back in 2013. The area hosting these ancient ruins is massive, some 1800 square miles, stretching between the Rio Bec and Chenes regions.
Amongst the findings was an impressive façade with an entrance set in the stone jaws of a monster. Maya façades are temple doorways that were usually elaborately decorated, often with huge, ornate masks.
The façade and various other parts of this particular city were actually first documented in the 70s by an American archeologist, Eric Von Euw, who visited the site and coined it Lagunita. While he may have made some useful sketches, he did a very poor job of recording the location of the city and thus no one was able to re-trace his footsteps.
When the researchers compared the façade with Von Euw’s illustrations it was clear that the city discovered was indeed the long lost Lagunita. According to Sprajc, the façade represents a Maya earth deity associated with fertility. “These doorways symbolize the entrance to a cave and, in general, to the watery underworld,” he added.
Alongside the monster façade, the team also discovered various palace-like buildings encircling four plazas, a ball court and a 65 foot tall pyramid. Some of the stones also featured inscriptions, one of which was etched on November 29, A.D. 711.
The second city, which was a new find, has been named Tamchen, which means “deep well” in Yucatec Mayan. This is due to the fact that it features an impressive number of underground chambers that were installed to collect rainwater. Similar to Lagunita, Tamchen also had several plazas lined with buildings and a large pyramid temple. While the team is not certain when these cities were built, there is some evidence to suggest that Tamchen could date as far back as 300 B.C.