Vast Mayan city discovered in southeast Mexico jungle

Mexico City, Jun 19 (EFE).- Archaeologists have discovered a previously unknown Mayan city in the southeastern state of Campeche, which for its vast extension and characteristics is believed to have been a seat of government some 1,400 years ago, Mexico's National Institute of Anthropology and History, or INAH, said.

A team of experts headed by Slovenian archaeologist Ivan Sprajc has christened the site Chactun.

"It is one of the largest sites in the Central Lowlands, comparable in its extent and the magnitude of its buildings with Becan, Nadzcaan and El Palmar in Campeche", Sprajc said in a statement released by INAH.

The complex covers more than 22 hectares (54 acres).

Based on the number of monuments, at least ten of them with inscriptions, the city is believed to have been the seat of government for a extensive area during the period of 600-900 A.D., the researcher said.

The INAH-backed exploration is financed by the National Geographic Society and two private companies: Austria's Villas and Slovenia's Ars Longa.

Down through the centuries, Chactun remained hidden in the jungle on the north of the Calakmul Biosphere Reserve. According to Sprajc, it forms part of an area covering more than 3,000 sq. meters (1,150 sq. miles) that has remained a "total blank" on the Mayan archaeological map.

The millennial metropolis is one of the nearly 80 sites detected by the Southeast Campeche Archaeological Recognition Project, launched in 1996.