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Ancient Maya city discovered in Mexican jungle

Ancient Maya city discovered in Mexican jungle

A previously unknown ancient Maya city has been discovered in the jungles of southern Mexico, the country’s anthropology institute said on Tuesday, adding it was likely an important center more than a thousand years ago.

The city, dubbed “Lacanja Tzeltal” after the nearby modern community, was found in the Lacandon jungle in Chiapas state, near the border with Guatemala.

Archaeologists surveyed the area using aerial photography and identified several mounds that indicated the presence of ancient structures.

They then explored the site on foot and uncovered buildings, plazas, ball courts, altars and sculptures that date back to between 750 and 900 AD.

“The preliminary analysis suggests that Lacanja Tzeltal was part of a larger regional system that included nearby cities such as Bonampak and Yaxchilan, with which it was connected by a network of causeways,” said Luis Alberto Martos López, director of the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH).

He added that Lacanja Tzeltal may have had a population of about 3,000 inhabitants at its peak and covered an area of about 12 square kilometers (4.6 square miles).

The Maya civilization was one of the most advanced in pre-Columbian America, known for its art, architecture, mathematics and astronomical systems.

It collapsed around 900 AD for reasons that are still debated by scholars.

Many of its impressive ruins have been reclaimed by nature and are hidden under dense vegetation.

Martos López said that Lacanja Tzeltal is only one of several archaeological sites that await discovery in the Lacandon jungle, which covers about 1.9 million hectares (4.7 million acres) and is home to a rich biodiversity.

“This region was very important in ancient times because it was a corridor for trade and cultural exchange between the Maya lowlands and Central America,” he said.

He also stressed the need to protect the area from illegal logging, farming and looting that threaten its cultural and natural heritage.

The INAH said it plans to continue exploring Lacanja Tzeltal and other nearby sites in collaboration with local communities.

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