The heavily-forested area has been hidden deep in the Mexican jungle for more than 1,000 years

Archaeologists have found an ancient Mayan city that remained hidden for centuries in the rain forests of eastern Mexico; a discovery in a remote nature reserve they hope will yield clues about how the civilization collapsed around 1,000 years ago.

The team, led by Ivan Sprajc, associate professor at the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts, found 15 pyramids - including one that stands 75 feet tall - ball courts, plazas and tall, sculpted stone shafts called stelae.

They named the city Chactun, meaning 'Red Rock' or 'Large Rock'.

Sprajc said it was likely slightly less populous than the large ancient Maya city of Tikal in Guatemala, and could have been home to as many as 30,000 or 40,000 people, though further research is necessary to determine an exact estimate.

Chactun likely had its heyday during the late Classic period of Maya civilization between 600 and 900 A.D., Sprajc said.

The team's research was approved by the Mexican National Institute of Anthropology and History and funded by the National Geographic Society and two European companies.

Sprajc said the site — which covers 22 hectares (54 acres) and lies 75 miles due west of Chetumal — is one of the largest found in the Yucatan's central lowlands.

The nearest settlement to the ruins is the small town of Xpujil, around 16 miles away.

'The whole site is covered by the jungle,' he said in Spanish.

While the site was unknown to the academic community, Sprajc found evidence that other people had been to the site as recently as 20 or 30 years ago, but not since.

'Lumberjacks and gum extractors were certainly already there, because we saw cuts on the trees,' Sprajc said.

'What happened is they never told anyone.'

While reviewing aerial photographs taken by the National Commission for the Knowledge and Use of Biodiversity 15 years ago to monitor the nature reserve, Sprajc and his team saw suggestions of ruins and marked the coordinates.

They then spent three weeks clearing a 10-mile (16-km) path through the jungle to reach the site.

After mapping the site for six weeks and documenting the monuments, they blocked the path before leaving to prevent access.

The presence of multiple ball game courts is an indication that Chactun was a very important city, Sprajc said.

It was likely abandoned around the year 1,000, probably due to demographic pressure, climate change, wars and rebellions.

Traditional mask at Quintana Roo, Yucatan in Mexico 


Responses to " Lost Mayan city discovered hidden in Mexican jungle for over 1,000 years (Photos - Video)"

  1. Alberto Martinez says:

    Nuesto paid es muy rico en cultura y bellesa, que muchas veses en nuestra ignorancia las consideramos como civilizasiones de indios ignorantes. Si aprendieramos mas de ellos, seriamos mas inteligentes. Chulada de pais y cultura!. Beautiful n rich, Mexico.

  2. Unknown says:

    Could the painted man hide in a forest or what?

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