Largest Maya Building Ever Found Is Located In Tabasco, Mexico

This area is developed – it’s not the jungle; people live there – but this site was not known because it is so flat and huge. It just looks like a natural landscape. But with LIDAR, it pops up as a very well-planned shape.” – Takeshi Inomata

Aguada Fenix Main Plateau. Photo credit goes to Takeshi Inomata.

The largest Maya construction ever found is located in Tabasco, Mexico and radiocarbon dating suggests that it is the oldest Maya construction known in existence. With the results clocking in at around 1000 to 800 BC, the site is believed to be sometime between 2800-3000 years old. The date is based on the examination of 69 charcoal samples that were found on site during the excavations.

The site was named Aguada Fénix because it partially rests on Phoenix Ranch (Rancho Fénix) which has many prominent aguadas (artificial reservoirs), hence Aguada Fénix.

The Aguada Fénix site was lost to obscurity until an international team of scientists headed by Takeshi Inomata and Daniel Triadan located it using LIDAR in 2017. The findings were published in the journal Nature on June 3rd, 2020. The structure is about 1.4 kilometres long (0.86 miles), 400 meters wide, and 9 to 15 meters tall. When comparing the beautiful aerial image above of the site with the LIDAR generated image below, you can start to get a sense of how difficult it would have been to locate without LIDAR technology.

The newly located site is quickly changing the way that scholars view the history of the Maya. Previously it was commonly believed that small Maya settlements began to develop between around 1000 to 350 BC. This new information shows evidence of significant, large-scale communal work near the beginning of that timespan.

The site is similar in appearance to some Olmec sites, but the lack of massive stone heads and thrones has led the team to conclude that there was more social equality among the Maya at this time, given that rulers and elites were not being glorified in advanced craftsmanship. This also hints at the building being made out of communal interest as opposed to being a construction ordered by an authoritative figure. In simple terms, it was made for the people by the people.

Only one sculpture has been found so far at Aguada Fénix and it appears to depict a white-lipped peccary, a pig-like hoofed mammal.

Takeshi Inomata is an archaeologist who studies Maya civilization, social change, warfare, architecture, and ceramics. He has worked at the Maya sites of Aguateca and Ceibal, Guatemala, and in the Middle Usumacinta region, Tabasco, Mexico.” – The University of Arizona, School of Anthropology, About Takeshi Inomata.

For anyone wondering where Tabasco Mexico is located geographically, here’s an image I grabbed from Google maps of it:

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[1] – Largest, Oldest Maya Monument Suggests Importance of Communal Work, UANews

[2] – Researchers find 3,000-year-old Maya structure larger than their pyramids

[3] –

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2 Comments on “Largest Maya Building Ever Found Is Located In Tabasco, Mexico

  1. That is an amazing discovery! So many new things coming to the forefront of knowledge in the findings of our mysterious past. Its exciting and lifting. So much more is yet to be discovered. Thank you for sharing this with us!!!

    Liked by 1 person

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