EMBARGOED FOR RELEASE: 8 SEPTEMBER 2000 AT 00:15 ET US
Vanderbilt archaeological team unearths buried Maya royal palace
A team of archaeologists from the United States and Guatemala has determined that a structure previously identified as a minor palace is not only one of the largest and most elaborate residences of ancient Maya kings discovered but also one of the best preserved.
"With more than 170 rooms built around 11 courtyards in three stories, this eighth century royal palace is about the same size as the central acropolis in Tikal (Guatemala)," says Arthur Demarest, the archaeologist from Vanderbilt University who heads the expedition with Tomas Barrientos from the Universidad del Valle in Guatemala. "But what is most incredible about this site is that most of the palace is buried virtually intact. No one has found anything like this since the turn of the century."
The vegetation-covered royal palace sits in the center of the ruins of an ancient city named Cancuén, which means "place of serpents." It is located in a remote area of the Petén rainforest of Guatemala that has been largely overlooked by archaeologists. The expedition that has begun to map and excavate the site is sponsored by Guatemala's Institute of Anthropology and History, the National Geographic Society and Vanderbilt University.
Cancuén was first visited by archaeologists in 1905, but they characterized it as a minor center; the expedition went within 100 me
Contact: David F. Salisbury
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