Ancient Mayan City Unearthed at Mexican Construction Space

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The ruins of Xiol, uncovered on a construction site in Mérida, Mexico.

Palaces, pyramids, and squares once inhabited the ruins of the ancient Mayan city. Ancient ruins have been discovered at an industrial park construction site near Merida, Mexico. According to Carlos Peraza Lope, one of the archaeologists who led the excavations, perhaps more than 4,000 people lived here.

In his opinion, it was a big city in which people from different social strata lived. Priests and scribes lived in large palaces. Ordinary people lived in small buildings built from perishable stone materials.

Built between AD 600–900, Xiol consists of 12 structures, including a main ceremonial center with a cenote, or deep-water well. The two additional buildings that surrounded the ceremonial center probably served as elite residences.

Called Xiol (meaning “spirit of man” in Yucatec and Maya), the find is rare, according to INAH archaeologists who excavated the site, which shows an architectural style common in the south of the Yucatán Peninsula but rare in the north. Known as Puuk, this style refers to ornate buildings that use smooth limestone surfaces and concrete cores. Chichen Itza is one of the Maya monuments made in this style.

Another 76 buildings have been discovered at Xiol, although they remain hidden under vegetation and have not yet been properly excavated. A large number of tools, pottery, and carved stone figures were also found.

“We even have some of the tools that the ancient Maya used to build their buildings, to smooth and cover the carved stones with plaster, and often also with paint, blue or red,” Peraza Lope said. In addition, the researchers found 15 burials of adults and children. These people were probably associated with the local nobility and were buried with obsidian and flint tools, ceremonial offerings, and other items.

Nearby, the remains of marine life were also found, indicating that the inhabitants of the city ate fish caught off the local coast. Although the industrial park is still planned to be built, specialists will also work on the preservation of archaeological sites. Xiol is scheduled to open to the public before the end of this year.

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