A centuries old Maya city that has been hidden for many eras in the rain forests of eastern Mexico was discovered recently by archaeologists. The discovery was made in a very remote nature reserve and it is hoped that clues will be unearthed to explain how and why the civilization collapsed about 1,000 years ago.
The team which was led by Ivan Sprjc an associate professor at the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts discovered 15 pyramids including a structure that stands 75 feet (23 meters) tall. They also found ball courts, plazas and some tall sculpted stone shafts called stealae.
The ancient city has been named Chactun meaning “Red Rock” or “Large Rock.” Sprjc revealed that the city was more than likely less populated than the ancient city of Tikal in Guatemala but it could have been home to as many as 30,000 or 40,000 people although more research is necessary to prove or disprove this theory.
It is theorized that Chactun had its heyday during the late Classic period of Maya civilization between 600 and 900 A.D.
The site covers 22 hectares (54 acres) and is 75 miles or 120 km due west of Chetumal. It is one of the largest sites to date in the Yucatan central lowlands. The nearest settlement to the ruins is the small town of Xpujil which is about 25km away. The entire site is covered by the jungle.
According to Sprjc the city was most likely abandoned around the year 1,000 owing to demographi pressure, climatatic changes, wars and rebellions. It is his hope that this new find will shed some light on the relations between different regions of the Maya empire during that period.
The Maya’s had one of the most advanced civilizations in pre-Columbian Americas and ruled over a large area of the Yucatan, Belize, Guatemala and Honduras. Tikal was first mapped by archaeologists in the late 19th century and had an estimated population of up to 90,000. Just last December thousands of people traveled to the Yucatan to celebrate a new cycle on the Maya calendar amid fears that the Mayans had predicted that December 21, 2012 would mark the end of the world.