Archaeologists have unearthed the ruins of an ancient Mayan city full of palaces, pyramids, and squares in a place that could be an industrial park near Merida on the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico. The place, named Xiol, has parts of Maya Puuc-style architecture that archaeologists say is common in the southern Yucatan Peninsula, but rarely near Merida.
“We believe that more than 4,000 people live here,” said Carlos Peraza, one of the archaeologists leading the city’s excavations, which was estimated to have been occupied in 600-900 AD. “People from all walks of life live in these large palaces … priests, scribes, and also ordinary people who live in small buildings,” Peraza said.
Researchers also found nearby graves of adults and children, buried with obsidian and tabernacle utensils, offerings, and other things. Remains of marine life have also been discovered in the area, suggesting that city dwellers supplemented their farming with fishing on the nearby coast.
Xiol was discovered after construction began on an industrial site. This is still being built, although archaeologists say the landowners are more well-preserved. Over time, urban sprawl (in the area) has increased and many archaeological remains have been destroyed… but we archaeologists were surprised, too, because we didn’t expect to see a place like that. “It was well preserved,” said Peraza.