Archaeologists discover an ancient Mayan city at a construction site

A view shows the collapsed roof that protected the ‘Casa de las Aguilas’, part of the ruins of the Templo Mayor archaeological site, after heavy rain and hail, in downtown Mexico City, Mexico, April 29, 2021 (Carlos Jasso, Reuters)

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KANASIN, Mexico – Archaeologists have discovered the ruins of an ancient Mayan city filled with palaces, pyramids and plazas at a construction site for what will become an industrial park near Mérida in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula.

The site, called Xiol, has features of the Puuc Maya architectural style, according to archaeologists, which is common in the southern Yucatan Peninsula but rare near Mérida.

“We think more than 4,000 people lived here,” said Carlos Peraza, one of the archaeologists who led the excavations of the city, which is estimated to have been occupied from AD 600 to 900.

“There were people of different social classes…priests, scribes, who lived in these big palaces, and there were also ordinary people who lived in small buildings,” Peraza said.

Researchers also located nearby cemeteries of adults and children, who were buried with obsidian and flint tools, offerings, and other personal effects.

Remains of marine life have also been discovered in the area, suggesting that the townspeople supplemented their agricultural diet by fishing along the nearby coast.

Xiol was discovered after construction of an industrial park began. This will still be built, although the archaeological remains will be preserved, according to the owners of the land.

“Over time, urban sprawl (in the area) has grown and many archaeological remains have been destroyed…but even we as archaeologists are surprised, as we did not expect to find such a well-preserved site,” Peraza said.

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Alice F. Ponder