Construction unearths ancient Mayan ruins on Yucatan Peninsula
Archeologists believe thousands of people once lived in area of site known as Xiol
Archeologists 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 Merida, on Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula.
The site, called Xiol, has features of the Mayan Puuc style of architecture, archeologists said, which is common in the southern Yucatan Peninsula but rare near Merida.
"We think more than 4,000 people lived around here," said Carlos Peraza, one of the archeologists who led the excavation of the city, estimated to have been occupied from 600-900 A.D.
"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."
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. It will still be built, though the archeological remains will be preserved, according to the owners of the land.
"With time, urban sprawl [in the area] has grown and many of the archeological remains have been destroyed … but even we as archeologists are surprised, because we did not expect to find a site so well preserved," Peraza said.