By Amina Khan
10:12 PM EDT, June 21, 2013
Deep in the jungles of Mexico, scientists have discovered a Maya city, complete with signs of pyramids, remnants of palace buildings and ball courts. This hidden archeological gem, named Chactún (which means “red stone” or “great stone”) was described by the country’s National Institute of Anthropology and History.
“It’s a total gap in the archeological map of the Maya area,” Slovenian archaeologist Ivan Sprajc, who led the team, said in a taped interview in Spanish.
Though the site, which dates between AD 600 and 900, remained undocumented amid the more than 80 other Maya sites that have been discovered in the area since 1996, it covers roughly 54 acres in the southeast of Campeche.
That’s a big enough area to have been a government center, and one of the largest in the central lowlands of the Yucatan peninsula, one of the largest in the central lowlands of the Yucatan peninsula, according to Reuters.
The site is bedecked with altars and decorative stone slabs, called steles. An inscription on one of the steles inspired the archaeologists to name it Chactún, officials said.
By conducting a topographic survey, the researchers were able to reconstruct Chactún in its three-dimensional glory. Sprajc pointed to the long buildings of what appeared to be a palace as an indication.
“We have various pyramids and the buildings that predominate here are long, evidently palatial buildings,” Sprajc said, “though at the moment we still cannot say whether they were homes of the elite, or administrative buildings -- we can’t say much about their function.”
The research was supported by the institute and also funded in part by the National Geographic Society.
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