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Team of international archaeologists finds Mayan city believed to be 1,400 years old
Discovered a couple of weeks ago, it is believed that the city was the reigning center of a vast region about 1,400 years ago, between 600 and 900 AD. Photo: Mauricio Marat/ INAH.

MEXICO CITY.- A team of national and international experts, led by archaeologist Ivan Šprajc, have baptized an ancient Mayan city, that hadn’t been previously reported, as Chactun “Red Stone” or “Big Stone”. This city is located southeast of the state of Campeche, and it’s one of the biggest sites attributed to this civilization that has been registered in the Low Central Lands.

Discovered a couple of weeks ago, it is believed that the city was the reigning center of a vast region about 1,400 years ago, between 600 and 900 AD., informed the archaeologist Ivan Šprajc, who leads the expedition supported by the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), indicating that these facts are inferred given the sites dimensions and the quantity of monuments.

The ancient Mayan metropolis is one of the 80 sites that have been located thanks to the Project of Archaeological Recognition in the Southeast of Campeche, which started in 1996. The finding of these places has been principally based in the recognition, by means of big scale aerial photographs.

Some sites, such as Uxul and King’s Wall, had been previously described by explorers like Karl Ruppert, in the 1930’s. However, Chactun remained ignored by scientific expeditions until today.

The site comprises three monumental complexes. However, its steles and altars –some of which still conserve stucco remains– best reflect the city’s former splendor in the Late Classic period (600-900 AD).

From the 19 steles registered, three are the best conserved. The one called 1 gives name to the place, since it mentions that the governor K'inich B'ahlam “Placed the Red Stone (or Big Stone) in the year 751 AD”, according to the preliminary interpretation made by archaeologist Octavio Esparza Olguin. The steles 18 and 14 emphasize because of the epigraphy that’s still observed.

Archaeologist Octavio Esparza (from the National University of Mexico), registered the steles and the altars. Many of these monuments, he said, where reused in former epochs, possibly at the end of the Late Classic period or the Early Postclassic period.
“These people might have been ignorant of the monuments meaning, since some of its steles where found upside down, however, they knew they were important, and they were worshipped, because we found ceramic offerings in front of each one of these”, he explained.

For Šprajc the most important thing about this finding are the future investigations which could clarify the relationship between the regions in the Bec and Chenes rivers, as well as the link between the river Bec and the Kaan dynasty, established in Calakmul during the Late Classic Period.

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