Researchers have so far discovered nearly 2,500 pre-Hispanic structures, 80 burial sites, and thousands of vessels and fragments along the route of the “Maya Train,” Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) announced in a statement Thursday.
The artifacts were discovered with the help of GPS georeferencing, satellite topographic images, and LIDAR sensors in the periphery of just one of the sections of the project, which runs from the cities of Palenque, in Chiapas to Escárcega, in Campeche.
Discoveries ranged from mounds to bases with complex architecture, INAH archaeologists Ileana Echauri Pérez and Iliana Ancona Aragón said.
The pair also worked with INAH investigator Silvianne Boucher Le Landais. “Both the immovable archaeological artifacts and the movable ones expand the knowledge about daily life, and trade and cultural exchange relations that existed centuries ago in the Mayan area,” the researchers said.
Some objects “of special interest” for researchers include “an offering composed of a bowl and a spouted vessel, both with four mammiform supports — representing the breasts of a woman,” which date from the transition from Pre-Classic to Classic periods, known as Protoclassic, INAH said.
Archaeologists believe the vessels were used by the ruling elite during “important political or religious moments,” and the pouring vessel was likely to have been used for precious liquids such as chocolate and perfumes.
A preliminary analysis indicated the Maya had inhabited the area for a long time, from the Middle Preclassic Period — which began in 700 BC — to as late as 850 AD, the end of the Late Classic Period.
Another area of interest for researchers is the Boca del Cerro area, located on the banks of the Usumacinta River, which was part of a large residential area associated with a key commercial hub that connected regions along the Usumacinta and other parts of Mesoamerica.