06 September 2014

Maya sites newly rediscovered!

We love hearing news like this. Ancient Maya sites in the Yucatán Peninsula have been discovered recently and excavation work is proceeding. Named Tamchén and Lagunita, they are located in Calakmul's Biosphere Reservation, in the southeastern corner of the Mexican state of Campeche.

Archaeologist Ivan Sprajc of Slovenia is leading the work, with approval and funding by INAH. Lagunita was initially visited by American archaeologist Eric Von Euw in the 1970s, who took pictures but failed to note its location, so it was lost again for decades. These sites, which date to the end of the late Classic period, are a fascinating example of just how much may lie hidden in Mesoamerican jungles. This particular area has is apparently lacking in archaeological efforts. Indications are that these areas may have been settled as far back as 300 b.c.

Monster doorway at Lagunita
Animal figurine from one of the sites
Both sites are close to the ancient site and modern town of Xpujil, which we visited on our first trip to Mexico. They also are in the region once controlled by the powerful ancient city of Calakmul, one of our favorite sites. Work is ongoing to see what relationship it may have had with Tamchén and Lagunita.

Just last year, Ivan discovered another unknown site in the area using aerial photographs. Named Chactún, this site may have been known to local loggers, but not to the scientific community. This was quite a large city anciently, with inhabitants numbering up to 40,000. It should not be surprising anymore, but discoveries like these keep happening. To us, this is particularly interesting, since we have traveled through this region and had no idea of what really was there. We hope to return again and see what progress has been made. If three new sites in a fairly small region have just recently come to light, who knows what further finds the future may hold?

Click here to read more about these discoveries.