An ancient Maya city has been found deep inside the Balamkú ecological reserve in Campeche, Mexico. The site, which contains "pyramidal structures" up to 15 meters (49 feet) high, was first spotted using airborne laser scanning (LiDAR), and then investigated by a team of researchers led by archaeologist Ivan Ṡprajc.
“The biggest surprise turned out to be the site located on a 'peninsula' of high ground, surrounded by extensive wetlands. Its monumental nucleus covers more than 50 hectares [124 acres] and has various large buildings, including several pyramidal structures over 15 meters high," Ṡprajc said in a National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) statement.
The team named the site Ocomtún – "stone column" in the Yucatec Maya language – after the features found at the site. The columns are thought to have once been part of entrances to upper floors of the Maya buildings. In the south-east of Ocomtún, there are three plazas surrounded by towering buildings and patio.
“Between the two main plazas there is a complex made up of various low and elongated structures, arranged almost in concentric circles," Ṡprajc added. "A ball game is also included.”
Other sites have been found nearby by the same project: Nadzcaan, 36 kilometers (22 miles) to the southeast of Ocomtún; and Chactún, 50 kilometers (31 miles) again to the southeast.
“The site served as an important center at the regional level, probably during the Classic period (250-1000 CE). The most common ceramic types that we collected on the surface and in some test pits are from the Late Classic (600-800 CE); however, the analysis of samples of this material will offer us more reliable data on the sequences of occupation."
The project continues to explore the area, which according to the team is practically unknown to archaeology.