Pyramidal buildings were discovered in the city.

LiDAR view of lost city of Ocomtún

A LiDAR view of the lost city of Ocomtún.

Image credit: Ivan Sprajc/INAH

Archaeologists have discovered an ancient Maya city deep under the Balamk natural reserve in Campeche, Mexico.

A team of researchers led by archaeologist Ivan Prajc investigated the site, which has “pyramidal structures” that can reach heights of 15 meters (49 feet) using aerial laser scanning (LiDAR).


“The site’s location on a high ground “peninsula,” encircled by significant wetlands, was the biggest surprise. In a statement from the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), the project stated that the site’s monumental nucleus is more than 50 hectares [124 acres] and contains numerous massive buildings, including multiple pyramidal constructions over 15 meters high.

Following the site’s characteristics, the team gave it the name Ocomtn, which means “stone column” in Yucatec Maya. The entrances to the top floors of the Maya buildings are supposed to have formerly included columns. Three plazas are located in Ocomtn’s southeast and are encircled by patios and tall buildings.

“There is a complex of various low and elongated structures, arranged almost in concentric circles,” Prajc continued. “Between the two main plazas.” “A baseball game is also included.”

The same study also discovered two more sites: Nadzcaan, 36 km (22 miles) southeast of Ocomtn, and Chactn, 50 km (31 miles) again to the southeast.

“The location was a significant regional center during the Classical period (250-1000 CE).” However, the investigation of samples of this material will provide us with more accurate information on the periods of habitation. The most prevalent ceramic types we gathered on the surface and in several test pits are from the Late Classic (600-800 CE).

The area the team claims is essentially unexplored by archaeology is still being investigated as part of the study.

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