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Two Ancient Mayan Cities Found in Mexican Jungle
August 26, 2014 10:27 AM   Subscribe

A monster mouth doorway, ruined pyramid temples and palace remains emerged from the Mexican jungle as archaeologists unearthed two ancient Mayan cities.
posted by Pr0t35t3r (24 comments total) 33 users marked this as a favorite

 
"It belongs in a museum!"
posted by leotrotsky at 10:36 AM on August 26 [9 favorites]


I'm imagining the locals bemusedly looking on as the archaeologists gape and drool.

"What, that old pyramid? My buddies and I used to place bets and toss melons down the steps. Wait 'till you see the big one over there."
posted by General Tonic at 11:06 AM on August 26 [1 favorite]


"A ball court and a temple pyramid almost 65 ft high also stood in the city,..." (Emphasis mine)

See, this. This is what happens when you have municipal subsidies of professional sports. Do you want your city to disappear into the jungle?
posted by straw at 11:10 AM on August 26 [3 favorites]


Two Ancient Mayan Cities Found(!!!)...forty years ago by previous archeologist
posted by Reasonably Everything Happens at 11:14 AM on August 26 [3 favorites]


...forty years ago by previous archeologist

Who gets an F minus in record-keeping. :)
posted by resurrexit at 11:19 AM on August 26 [9 favorites]


Metafilter: the watery underworld, place of mythological origin of maize and abode of ancestors
posted by mannequito at 11:19 AM on August 26


Twenty bucks says it's a stunt by Nickelodeon to reboot Legends of the Hidden Temple.
posted by Talez at 11:21 AM on August 26 [2 favorites]


This is pretty much exactly how I pictured The Ruins. Hello nightmares.
posted by mochapickle at 11:26 AM on August 26 [1 favorite]


Harvard University Press has some publications by Eric Von Euw, and the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology at Harvard had Von Euw's records, but only a few specialists knew of those records.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:26 AM on August 26


Twenty bucks says it's a stunt by Nickelodeon to reboot Legends of the Hidden Temple.

Don't tease me like that!!
posted by Twain Device at 11:27 AM on August 26


...forty years ago by previous archeologist

Who gets an F minus in record-keeping. :)


There was, I thought, an incredible comment on this on reddit last week:
My in-law is an archeologist who does Mayan digs. He pointed out all the undiscovered pyramids visible from the top of chichen iza. Everything that looks like a small mountain is a pyramid, which hasn't been excavated yet. The Mexican policy is to leave them untouched because they know it's expensive to maintain them once they are uncovered. There are two exceptions: if it will improve tourism or if it will provide new information about the decline of the ancient civilization.

I appreciated this policy when I went to Egypt. That place is a mess! They approve digs all over the place and can't handle the stuff they have. The Cairo museum is like the garage of a major hoarder. There is stuff everywhere, unlabeled, and often you have to walk around stuff to see what's behind it and even find unopened boxes. Meanwhile, every archeology student wants to work on an Egyptian dig, so universities from around the work are all getting involved finding new stuff. But the infrastructure to maintain what they have is very lacking.
It's not really a "lost" civilization in that we don't know where it is. But by keeping the "ancient" (really, much of it is newer than the roman empire) cities uncovered means preserving them.
posted by rebent at 11:47 AM on August 26 [32 favorites]


....someday we will find the ceeteees of gold
dooby-doo doodoo
aaa--aa-aah....

posted by runincircles at 11:58 AM on August 26 [4 favorites]


Right. These things aren't hard to find in Mexico. Unexcavated ruins are super common, and all of the famous archeological sites have acres and acres of stuff that's still buried.

It's also not a "lost" civilization in that the descendents of the people who built it are still around, and there are yet people for whom Mayan or Nahuatl is their native language. Also religious syncretism in Mexico means that aspects of the old religions are still practiced, and they keep resurfacing in interesting ways.

Mexico is awesome, you guys, and the culture is far richer than most people seem to know.
posted by chrchr at 12:01 PM on August 26 [10 favorites]


I am so excited about this, ahhh
posted by Hermione Granger at 12:24 PM on August 26


I wonder if it was actually made by a stray band of Carthaginians and Celts who were blown off course and not the natives. Carthage's Lost Warriors
posted by ChuckRamone at 12:29 PM on August 26


I, ah... highly doubt it?
posted by rebent at 12:45 PM on August 26 [6 favorites]


I wonder if it was actually made by a stray band of Carthaginians and Celts who were blown off course and not the natives. Carthage's Lost Warriors

I believe they ended up on Waponi Woo.
posted by condour75 at 1:07 PM on August 26 [5 favorites]


The Cairo museum is like the garage of a major hoarder.

oh shit dude what if we're like the aliens off site storage unit and when they come back they're all like "damn hobos living in out storage unit" and we're like "no wait" and they're all "they built a city on aunt x'rpblat's quilt goddamnit" and they they call the storage unit company and they're all "you didn't pay the extra gold-press latinum fee for insurance so we can't help you also you owe us like seven cycles of back rent pay up if you want your stuff" and the aliens are all hemming and hawing and promising to get the check to him next week but he knows they won't and he slips us a secret wink that only we can see and we're all "oh snap i think that's the lord god and he just saved our ass" and we rejoice and hallelujah but he was actually winking to the camera and our planet is going to be on intergalactic storage wars next season and we are going to be sold to a zeta reticulan with weird sideburn scales
posted by robocop is bleeding at 1:37 PM on August 26 [10 favorites]


On the "F minus in record keeping": The point about "undisturbed is saved for the future" is a good one, but this is also an interesting look at how mapping and location has changed in 40 years. I have, pretty damned accurately, triangulated with a Silva on to a topo map using local mountains as reference points, but the idea that for a hundred bucks we can carry something that'll give us a lat/lon pair to a few meters (and a few thousand to a few tens of centimeters, with the possibility of on the order of less than yearly continental drift for a little more than that) is relatively new.

Even amazing record keeping at the state of the art 40 years ago would have trouble precisely pinpointing some of those "chultun" holes in the ground given 4 decades of overgrowth and reference points that, if they were visible through the foliage, would undoubtedly have had some feature change if only because the trees got bigger.

Sure, someone could drag a transit through the jungle, with intermediate references, and hacking sight lines, but it ain't the "little device in the pocket we press a button on to mark a waypoint and keep on hiking" world we live in now.
posted by straw at 2:21 PM on August 26 [7 favorites]


"they built a city on aunt x'rpblat's quilt goddamnit"

That was beautiful. Thank you.
posted by queensissy at 5:06 PM on August 26


I'm imagining the locals bemusedly looking on as the archaeologists gape and drool.

"What, that old pyramid? My buddies and I used to place bets and toss melons down the steps. Wait 'till you see the big one over there."


If only they spoke Hovitos.
posted by BiggerJ at 6:58 PM on August 26


this is also an interesting look at how mapping and location has changed in 40 years

Yea, and not even 40 years but 15. When I was working in cultural resource management in the 90:s, selective availability was still turned on. I spent hours each week correcting data from our handheld GPS units by comparing it with the differential data from the base station, and that didn't even work all the time. I'm so jealous of the accuracy you can get - even with just your phone - these days. Would have made all that surveying I did a whole lot easier...
posted by gemmy at 9:08 PM on August 26 [1 favorite]


But by keeping the "ancient" (really, much of it is newer than the roman empire) cities uncovered means preserving them.

I have traveled a bit in rural Mexico and can attest that basically ruins are everywhere. Oaxaca is littered with mounds and the ones that have been excavated are only partially excavated.

When we were driving in Michoacan, the guys in charge of Tingambato could only complain about what a huge pain it was to maintain the site. Government funding was hard to get and yet the site, once excavated becomes a responsibility and thus a burden to guard and maintain. Even Tingambato, a site I found interesting because it is in the same style as the well-known Teotihuacan, a site 200 miles away, has been only partially excavated.
posted by vacapinta at 2:11 AM on August 27


Also religious syncretism in Mexico means that aspects of the old religions are still practiced, and they keep resurfacing in interesting ways.

In Guatemala, they leave offerings for Maximon.

I've spent a bit of time travelling in Central America, and you can absolutely tell the difference between a Mayan town and one that's primarily Spanish in culture. There's quite a bit of racism against Maya still, and it wasn't long ago that they were being massacred in Guatemala. At one point, there was even an independent Mayan state in the Yucatan, and even well into the 20th century, there were places in that area that non Mayan people couldn't enter safely.
posted by empath at 8:56 AM on August 27 [1 favorite]


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