Using aerial photography and 3D mapping techniques, a team of Mexican and foreign archaeologists led by Ivan Šprajc of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts have discovered two Mayan sites called Lagunita and Tamchen in the north of Calakmul Biosphere Reserve in Campeche.

Lagunita was first visited in the 1970s by American archaeologist Eric Von Enw who described some of the monuments and sketched a temple façade with a doorway symbolizing the jaws of the earth monster, but his work was never published and there were no records of the site. The jungle is so dense in the area that crumbling temples and house mounds are hidden under a thick layer of tree roots, creepers and soil and are extremely difficult to locate.

In addition to the earth monster temple, Lagunita has a 20-meter-high pyramid, a ball court, four plazas lined with buildings, residential areas, agricultural terraces, three altars and 10 stelae or standing stones with hieroglyphic inscriptions, one containing the date of A.D. 711.

Ceramics found at the site of Tamchen indicate that it may have been settled in the Late Preclassic period (300 B.C. to A.D. 250) and a number of buildings have been located around courtyards. Tamchen is also noteworthy for its 30 chultunes or underground wells, which were used to collect rainwater; such a large concentration at one site is unique.

In 2013, Šprajc’s team discovered the larger city of Chactun,”the city of red stone. ” Located 10 kilometers to the north of Lagunita, it is thought to have been one of the most important sites in the central lowlands, between the two distinct regions of Rio Bec and Chenes, and with links to the city of Calakmul.

Excavations and research will continue at all three sites and as many more ancient Mayan cities await discovery in the forests of southern Campeche and Quintana Roo, additional finds are sure to come to light.

Photo courtesy of: Ivan Sprajc – Source: Archaeology News Network