Error
  • Error loading feed data

Extensive Maya Site Discovered Southeast of Campeche

Email
Created on Wednesday, 19 June 2013 12:06
Last Updated on Wednesday, 19 June 2013 12:15

Chactn

CAMPECHE, MEXICO - Chactún Dubbed as "Red Rock" or "Piedra Grande", this monumental area is located north of the Biosphere Reserve of Calakmul, and had its peak between 600 and 900 AD. The site "is definitely one of the largest sites in the Central Lowlands, comparable in extent and magnitude of its buildings with Becan and El Palmar" said Ivan Sprajc, the archaeologists who leads a team of national and international experts.

Located in the southeast of Campeche, Chactún is one of the largest sites registered in the Central Lowlands of this ancient civilization. Discovered a few weeks ago, it is believed that the city was the leading center of a vast region a thousand 400 years, between 600 and 900 AD, according to the researcher who heads the expedition supported by the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), indicating that this is inferred by the extent of the site, more than 22 hectares, and the amount of monuments, at least a dozen of them with inscriptions.

The exploration initiative, with the approval of the INAH Archaeology Council, is funded by the National Geographic Society, and Austrian companies and Slovenia Villas Ars longa. Along the centuries, Chactún remained hidden in the jungle of northern Biosphere Reserve of Calakmul. According to Sprajc, is part of an area over 3,000 square kilometers, located between the Rio Bec and Chenes region, an area that has remained as "a total blank on the archaeological map of the Maya area.

The ancient Maya metropolis is one of 80 sites that have been identified by the Archaeological Survey Project in Southeastern Campeche, which began in 1996. The location of these sites was based primarily on the recognition by large-scale aerial photography. Uxul Sites like Kings and wall had been previously described by scouts of Karl Ruppert, in the 1930s. However, Chactún was largely ignored by the scientific expeditions until today.

With only tappers and loggers in the region, the area was covered with weeds again, when in 1989 it was declared part of the Reserve Biosphere. These gaps, ever open to exploit natural resources, were cleared again, but now by a group of locals that accompany the archaeological exploration.   "With aerial photographs examined stereoscopically, we find many features that were obviously architectural remains. From there we took the coordinates and the next step was to locate the ancient alleys used by tappers and loggers to reach the area”, explained Sprajc. From the road leading from the town of Xpujil to 16 kilometers we traveled to Hopelchén. To reach the camp where the team of archaeologists overnighted, it is necessary to go for almost two hours in the tropical forest. The road is passable only with four wheel drive truck and you must continually stop use your machete to cut back the vegetation that blocks the path.

The site comprises three monumental complexes. The West, which covers an area of over 11 hectares, the Southeast and Northeast together account for another like extension. In these spaces are dispersed numerous pyramidal structures, palatial, including two ballgame courts, patios, plazas, sculpted monuments and residential areas.

While the tallest pyramid is 23 meters high, and is located in West Complex. The most impressive aspect of the place is the volume of buildings constructed. However, the stelae and altars, some of which still retain traces stucco, these best reflect the splendor of the city in the so-called Late Classic period (600-900 AD).

As in Chactún, contemporary Maya cities such as Calakmul, Becan and El Palmar are known for the large number of altars and stelae, the inscriptions which combine with other painted stucco are a rare feature in this type of monument. Among the 19 stelae recorded so far, three are the best preserved. The one that gives the name to the place mentioned the ruler K'inich B'ahlam. “He fixed the Red Stone (or Great Stone), in the year 751 after Christ" according to the preliminary interpretation by epigrapher, Octavio Esparza Olguin. Stelae 18 and 14 stand out epigraphy still observed. Another peculiarity of the ancient city is that despite its proximity to Rio Bec, the architectural style differs from it. It has twin towers and its pyramidal structures are associated with folksy Petén architecture.

Work on Chactún corresponding to the eighth season of the Archaeological Reconnaissance Project in Southeastern Campeche. Survey equipment was provided by the INAH, and a survey was conducted by Slovenian Aleš surveyor and Mexican archaeologist Marsetič Atasta Flores Esquivel, allowing the team to obtain three-dimensional maps of the place.

Meanwhile, Octavio Esparza, epigraphist archaeologist and National Autonomous University of Mexico, reported on the stelae and altars. Several of these monuments, he said, were reused in later times, possibly late Classic and even Early Post classic. "These people may not know the meaning of the monuments, as some of the stelae were found in head, but they knew they were important and worshiped them, because they found ceramic offerings in front of some of them," he said. Further example of the reuse of parts, said Ivan Sprajc, Stela 18 was found at back corner on the ball field East Complex. "This reuse of monuments is another interesting aspect of this place. Elsewhere we have not found such evidence." To Sprajc, the most important of this finding is that future research will clarify the relationship between the Rio Bec and Chenes regions, and the link of this first (Rio Bec) with Kaan dynasty, established during the Late Classic Calakmul, this, considering that Chactún is located in a geographical transit area.

Chactún Site video: http://youtu.be/WQguDtodNbI

 

Courtesy CONACULTA