Lagunita and Tamchén, Two Newly Discovered Mayan Sites

2.maya-cities-laguinitaTwo large Maya sites in the Yucatana have been (re) discovered by Ivan Šprajc from the Research Centre of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts. The sites in the northern part of the Calakmul Biosphere Reserve which is are in the southeast part of Campeche, close to the towns of Xpujil and Zoh Laguna.

I used the phrase rediscoveries because one of the sites was visited by Eric Von Euw in the 1970’s He documented the extraordinary façade which I pictured below. He described it as an earth monster with its open and drew it out. His drawings are at the Peabody Museum. The exact location was lost, but Von Euw called it Lagunita. Up until a few weeks ago, it remained a lost site, in spite of several attempts at relocating it. Šprajc found Lagunita.

Lagunita, zoomorphic portal, right side, looking southeast. Image: ZRC SAZU

Šprajc explains,

“We found the site with the aid of aerial photographs, but were able to identify it with Lagunita only after we saw the façade and the monuments and compared them with Von Euw’s drawings, which the renowned Maya expert Karl Herbert Mayer made available for me.”

At Tamchén, dozens of chultuns are scattered in two plazas; some are partly collapsed or filled-in with material accumulating through centuries, but others are even today 10 or more meters deep. Whereas chultuns are common at Maya sites, their depths and high concentration within the civic and ceremonial centre of the ancient settlement represent a peculiarity of Tamchén. Image: ZRC SAZU

The other site has never been reported. It was located during the recently accomplished and it has been baptised with the name Tamchén, which means “deep well” in Yucatec Maya. Deep well refers to the more than 30 chultuns, which are effectively wells or bottle-shaped underground chambers, largely i intended for collecting rainwater. Some of these chultuns are as deep as 13 meters.

Earlier this year I visited Guatemala and toured some of the ancient Mayan sites. In the thick jungle you can be as little as 600 feet from a large temple and not even know it. There are mounts all over the place and can be mistaken as a hill, but underneath all the jungle there may be an urban center or a temple. Lagunita and Tamchén are situated in a portion of a vast, archaeologically unexplored territory in central Yucatan lowlands. Except for Chactún, the large Maya city discovered by Šprajc’s team in 2013, no other site has so far been located in this area.

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