Unexpected discovery: a previously unknown Mayan city discovered in Mexico

Archaeologists led by Ivan Spraich conducted research in the Balamcu Ecological Reserve in Mexico and discovered a Mayan city previously unknown to science. The city was named Okomtun, which means “stone column” in the Yucatan indigenous language. This place served as an important center at the regional level, probably during the Classic period of the Maya (250-1000 years AD). However, most of the pottery and other artifacts found belong to the Late Classic period (600-800 A.D.).

The city covers an area of over 50 hectares and consists of a variety of large buildings, including several pyramidal structures over 15 meters high. In the southeast of the discovered “nucleus” there were three squares on which mostly imposing buildings were erected. They were surrounded by several groups of patios. Between the two main squares was a complex of various low and elongated structures diverging from the center to the sides in concentric circles. This was also the site of the traditional ritual ball game.

The south-eastern complex was connected with the north-western part by a powerful dike. It led to a kind of acropolis, i.e. to the most fortified part of the city, which was situated on a hill. The height of city walls reached ten meters here. A pyramid was found in the northern part, rising 25 meters above the natural terrain.

Archaeologists knew where to go, as the field work was preceded by an aerial survey. This indicated the place of possible presence of ancient objects in the dense jungle. They also used an airplane to scan the area with a laser scanner and advanced LiDAR technology. This was very helpful to the archaeologists, as it revealed numerous clusters of pre-Hispanic structures.

The archaeologists’ findings suggest that Okomtun came to its downfall around 1000 AD. For some reason the inhabitants left it. They probably did so in a hurry. Archaeologists have found evidence that the inhabitants who left the city took with them, above all, the most revered shrines.

This discovery can help scientists better understand the history of the Maya and their culture. As Ivan Spraich noted, “Oktomtun is further proof that Mexico hides much that has not yet been revealed. It remains one of the most important archaeological regions in the world.

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