Tabasco is a Mexican state with a northern coastline fringing the Gulf of Mexico. In its capital, Villahermosa, Parque Museo la Venta is known for its zoo and colossal stone sculptures dating to the Olmec civilization.
Archaeologist Takeshi Inomata of the University of Arizona has described The oldest and largest ceremonial construct in the history of Maya that has been concealed in plain sight on a Mexican cattle ranch along the border of Guatemala. “It just looks like part of the natural landscape,” says Archaeologist Takeshi Inomata of the University of Arizona.
He and his squad were analyzing low-resolution lidar photographs of the area captured by the Mexican government when they were surprised to come across what appeared to be a massive earthen base. A subsequent high-resolution lidar survey of the site found that the structure is almost a mile long and is as high as 50 feet. Radiocarbon dating shows that the people of Maya created a ceremonial room between 1000 and 800 B.C.
Identified as Aguada Fenix, or “Phoenix Reservoir,” the structure resembles a foundation found in the 1960s in the much older Olmec town of San Lorenzo, about 300 miles to the west. Evidence found at San Lorenzo, such as the monumental stone heads that commemorated its kings, indicates that the Olmec were possibly directed to build the foundation by influential officials. But there are no signs of such socioeconomic injustice in Aguada Fenix, where the only piece of art so far uncovered is a two-foot limestone sculpture of javelina called “Choco” by the excavators. “People have not been forced to build this platform,” says Inomata.