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Ancient Maya city uncovered, was obscured by Mexican jungle

June 21, 2013 at 6:00 PM   |   Comments

MERIDA, Mexico, June 21 (UPI) -- Archaeologists say an ancient Maya city found in Mexico's Yucatan may yield clues to how the mysterious civilization presided over a vast empire at its peak.

The abandoned Chactun city, hidden for hundreds of years in the Yucatan's jungle-covered Campeche province, was home to 30,000 to 40,000 people during the late Classic period of Maya civilization between 600 and 900, after which year the civilization spun into decline, they said.

The city was identified using aerial photographs taken about 15 years ago, and a team of archaeologists spent weeks cutting a 10-mile-long path into the thick jungle to reach the site, The Christian Science Monitor reported Friday.

On a site of more than 50 acres, the team has uncovered 15 pyramids, one of which is about 75 feet tall, as well as ball courts suggesting the city was an important one in the empire.

Chactun could provide a better understanding of the relationship between the Mayan empire's various cities and may yield clues to the civilization's precipitous decline, the researchers said.

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