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Construction Crew Stumbles on 1,400-Year-Old Ruins of Maya City
While construction crews were hard at work building a new industrial park near Mérida in 2015, they stumbled upon the remnants of a historic city. Now, archaeologists in Mexico say the site was once a bustling Maya community with more than 4,000 residents.

Filled with palaces, plazas, pyramids and a cenote (a natural sinkhole), Xiol was likely home to a wide variety of Maya people, including dignitaries, scribes, priests and other residents who farmed and fished along the nearby coast, researchers say.

The find is significant because many other archaeological remains have been destroyed as the Kanasín municipality—located on the outskirts of Mérida, Yucatán’s capital city—has expanded. Xiol will open to the public later this year, reports Yucatán Magazine’s Carlos Rosado van der Gracht. “Even we as archaeologists are surprised, because we did not expect to find a site so well preserved,” Carlos Peraza Lope, an archaeologist who led the excavation at Xiol for Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), tells Reuters’ Lorenzo Hernandez and Kylie Madry.

Archaeologists discover ancient Maya city at Mexico construction site
Archaeologists have uncovered the ruins of an ancient Maya 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 Maya Puuc style of architecture, archaeologists said, which is common in the southern Yucatán peninsula but rare near Mérida. “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.

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Image courtesy Lorenzo Hernandez / Reuters

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