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(The Guardian – May 27, 2022) – Archaeologists have uncovered the ruins of an ancient Mayan city filled with palaces, pyramids and plazas on a construction site of what will become an industrial park near Mérida, on Mexico’s Yucatán peninsula.

The site, called Xiol, has features of the Mayan Puuc style of architecture, archaeologists said, which is common in the southern Yucatán peninsula but rare near Mérida.

These works, which are carried out thanks to the financial support of the Government of the State of Yucatán, have made it possible to confirm the existence of a palace east of the main square of Group C, by means of the liberation and recognition of the basement, the stairways and a creak with pilasters, in the upper part, that would have been used by the elite of the place.
This is, archaeologist Alfredo Barrera Rubio mentions, of a voluminous construction of approximately 55 meters long by 15 wide and 6 high, whose material remains point to two phases of occupation: one in the Late Classic period (600–900 AD). C.) and another in the Terminal Classic (850–1050 AD).

“We think more than 4,000 people lived around here,” said Carlos Peraza, one of the archaeologists who led the excavation of the city, estimated to have been occupied from 600 to 900 AD.

“There were people from different social classes … priests, scribes, who lived in these great palaces, and there were also the common people who lived in small buildings,” Peraza said.

Tools, vases and pots are laid out on a white table in an outdoor area filled with dirt and dead vegetation.
Vases, pots and tools were discovered at Xiol, an ancient Mayan city filled with palaces, pyramids and plazas. Photograph: Lorenzo Hernandez/Reuters

Researchers also located nearby burial grounds of adults and children, who were interred with obsidian and flint tools, offerings and other belongings.

Remains of marine life were also discovered in the area, suggesting the city’s inhabitants complemented their agricultural-based diets by fishing along the nearby coast.

Xiol was discovered after construction began on an industrial park. That will still be built, though the archaeological remains will be preserved, according to the owners of the land.

“With time, urban sprawl [in the area] has grown and many of the archaeological remains have been destroyed … but even we as archaeologists are surprised, because we did not expect to find a site so well preserved,” Peraza said.

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