Ruins Of Lost Mayan City Discovered Deep In Mexican Jungle
Lost Mayan City Staircase Building
Ivan Ṡprajc via INAH

Archeologists have come across the ruins of an ancient Mayan city complete with buildings and pyramidal structures, the Mexican National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) announced Tuesday. 

The city, which archeologists believe would have once been an important regional center, dates between roughly 250 to 1,000 A.D. Located in the thick jungle of the Balamkú ecological reserve in the Yucatan Peninsula in southern Mexico, the settlement was discovered by a team led by Slovenian archeologist Ivan Ṡprajc. 

“The biggest surprise turned out to be the site located on a ‘peninsula’ of high ground, surrounded by extensive wetlands,” Ṡprajc said. “Its monumental nucleus covers more than 50 hectares and has various large buildings, including several pyramidal structures over 15 meters high.”

Archeologists discovered the buildings, stone columns, and even multiple 50-foot pyramids that make up the city in a largely unexplored section of the jungle. They named it Ocomtún, which is the Mayan word for “stone column,” because of the multiple scattered stone columns across the settlement, according to INAH. 

The University of Houston conducted laser scanning (LiDAR) of the region in March, which located “numerous concentrations of pre-Hispanic structures.” From May to June, Ṡprajc and his team further studied and documented the site.

“The site served as an important center at the regional level, probably during the Classic period (250-1000 AD),” Ṡprajc said. “The most common ceramic types that we collected on the surface and in some test pits are from the Late Classic (600-800 AD); however, the analysis of samples of this material will offer us more reliable data on the sequences of occupation.”

According to the researchers, the columns were likely entrances to the upper rooms of buildings. The city is built around three main plazas with numerous “patio groups,” INAH says. Between two of the plazas, Ṡprajc explains, “There is a complex made up of various low and elongated structures, arranged almost in concentric circles.” The team even discovered what they believe to be a court for a ball game. 

The northwestern part of the settlement is where the majority of the buildings and structures are located, and a “causeway” connects it to the southwestern portion of the city, according to the researchers. While most of the pyramids measure roughly 50 feet tall, one reaches 82 feet. 


The archeologists believe the site likely collapsed between 800 and 1,000 A.D., based on analysis of the buildings and structures, which would be in line with the Mayan civilizational collapse in the southern lowlands, according to the BBC.

Ṡprajc explains that analysis of the buildings and remains discovered “a reflection of ideological and population changes in times of crises that, finally, by the 10th century, led to the collapse of the complex sociopolitical organization and the drastic demographic decline in the Maya Central Lowlands.” 

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