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News > Latin America

'Ancient Mexican City Rivals Manhattan Metropolis': Researchers

  • Researchers first began scoping out the area in search of the city in 2007, but then switched to hi-tech techniques due to the rough terrain.

    Researchers first began scoping out the area in search of the city in 2007, but then switched to hi-tech techniques due to the rough terrain. | Photo: Google

Published 16 February 2018
Opinion

Beneath the jungles of western Mexico lie the sprawling ruins of what archaeologists are calling the "new old city" of Angamuco.

Laser mappings have revealed the ruins of an ancient city occupied by Aztec enemies the Purepechas, with 40,000 structures discovered in just 26 square kilometers, the equivalent of 16th-century Manhattan.

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Beneath the jungles of western Mexico, just outside of the city Morelia and buried beneath meters of volcanic rock, lie the vast ruins of what archaeologists are calling the "new old city" of Angamuco.

Using a combination of Lidar laser scanning, GPS data and research, scientists were able to create a three-dimensional map of western Mexico and scour beneath the foliage to find the buried ruins.

Researchers say the metropolis was populated by lesser-known group the Purepechas, one of the major ethnic groups in Mesoamerican civilization who withstood Aztec attacks to survive until the early 19 century.

"To think that this massive city existed in the heartland of Mexico for all this time and nobody knew it was there is kind of amazing," Colorado State University Archaeologist Chris Fisher told the Guardian.

Scientists say Angamuco is twice the size of the group's imperial capital, Tzintzuntzan, at the edge of Lake Patzcuaro. According to their findings, the city was distinct in that it had open squares and pyramids along its perimeter rather than at its center, a departure from Mesoamerican customs.

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"This is a huge area with lots of people and a lot of architectural remains. If you do the math, you suddenly talk about 40,000 buildings, which is about the same number of buildings on the island of Manhattan," Fisher said, adding that an estimated 100,000 residents lived in the city at its peak.

Researchers first began scoping out the area in search of the city in 2007, but then switched to more hi-tech techniques, such as the Lider laser, due to the difficult terrain.

"(Its size) would make it the biggest city that we know of right now in western Mexico during this period," Fisher said.

Among the artifacts uncovered are ceramic fragments which date back as far as 900 AD, some of which support the theory that the Indigenous group underwent two waves of civil development and one collapse prior to the Spanish invasion.

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