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Merida, Mexico. Image: By Sébastien Michel, FlickrMerida, Mexico. Image: By Sébastien Michel, Flickr

New Mayan sites discovered in the Yucatan

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Mexican archaeologists have discovered several new Mayan sites as well as an important concentration of pre-Columbian graves in the state of Yucatan, according to a statement by the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH).

The remains which  include structures, ceramics, lithics and  human burials were found in the rural community of Sitpach, five kilometres east of Merida, the state capital. The artefacts date back to the Maya Late Preclassic period (400 BC-200 AD) and the finding of them has resulted in a change in the local chronology for this particular region.

New sites

New Maya site recorded during survey.  Image: INAH

New Maya site recorded during survey. Image: INAH

The new sites were located in an area covering roughly 1,000 hectares and have been registered to the nearest location; Oxmul, Polok Ceh, Cuzam, Chan Much, Nichak, Tzakan and Chankiuik.

According to INAH, the Oxmul site contained 75 pre-Columbian graves found to contain the remains of individuals buried with polychromatic vessels and other ceramic objects never before seen in this area.

Archaeologist Luis Raul Pantoja Diaz, coordinator of the Merida Region Archaeological Project, said that these finds provide evidence for “earlier, well-organized populations with an elaborate social strata“. Mr Diaz said archaeologists had found architectural structures showing evidence of “intense social and economic development.”

Merida Region Archaeological Project

Mr Diaz also said that due to the Merida Region Archaeological Project, researchers have investigated “more than 15 sites located on the outskirts of the city, where the INAH has so far registered 29 locations with archaeological traces;  currently there are 170 sites registered in the entire municipality of Merida.”

He explained that the first proposal for an archaeological rescue programme which established the Merida Region Archaeological Project was in 2004 and this resulted in three seasons of investigations at the site of San Pedro Cholula, north of Merida.

As a result of this work the archaeologists were able to define several zones where there should be a prohibition on development. The project has also consolidated several ancient structures to be integrated into a residential area.

All of the material recovered from the excavations will remain at INAH’s offices in the Yucatan, where it will be analysed to further understand the people, technologies and histories behind these sites.

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