An archaeological site with bones, pottery fragments, and a scale board with inscriptions next to the unearthed objects.

Unearthed: 26 Ancient Mayan Burials Revealed

Archaeologists have unearthed 26 human burials from the pre-Hispanic era in a 36-kilometer stretch between the towns of Constitución, in the municipality of Calakmul, and Lechugal, in Escárcega, Campeche. Twelve of these burials were found in cists, or stone-lined graves. The finds were made during archaeological salvage operations carried out during the construction of the Mayan Train.

Between October 2022 and February 2023, a 20-meter-wide area on either side of the proposed train route was surveyed. This was done to clear areas designated by the Secretary of National Defense. After this initial task, led by archaeologists Eric Saloma García and later Alejandro Cañas Ortiz, excavation of previously registered archaeological sites began.

Archaeologists Gustavo Alejandro Cool Argüelles and Armida del Rosario Bolaños conducted much of the work on Front 6 of the Mayan Train's Section 7. They found human burials at various points, mostly individual, and arranged in different ways: supine and lateral, extended, flexed, seated. Ten of these burials were accompanied by offerings.

Unlike other areas close to large cities like Xpujil or Becan, this area does not have a central site. Instead, it features small clusters of squares, some terraces, and modest residential units, many of which contained the discovered burials.

Argüelles explains that 59% of the burials were found in foundations, and another 35% in footings. In some cases, three or four funeral contexts were recovered from a single monument. Based on the ceramics found, it's believed these sites were inhabited between the early and late Classic periods (250-900 AD).

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The cists, crude stone arrangements, mostly contained human remains. One, however, held a ceramic bowl, leading to debate over whether the context was funerary. One notable find was four burials in the remains of a house, two of which were in cists and accompanied by ceramic items.

Another significant burial was found 1.5 meters deep in the center of a square, indicating the individual's importance. This square is part of a pre-Hispanic site near the town of Justicia Social, in Escárcega. Around this square, a series of monuments were found, one of which was excavated on its southern side.

As the archaeologists dug deeper, they discovered the walls of two rooms on the north side. At the entrances of these rooms, they found three slabs that could have formed part of a facade or served as lintels. These slabs depict male figures, one in motion and another possibly sitting. Only parts of the third figure are preserved.