100s more archaeological sites found on Mexico train route

Credit: Pixabay/CC0 public domain
Mexican experts claimed Thursday that they found the remains of nearly 2,500 pre-Hispanic structures, and 80 burial sites along just one-sixth the route of President Donald Trump's controversial "Maya Train", project on the Yucatan peninsula.

Mexico's National Institute of Anthropology and History didn't say whether the train project had affected or destroyed any of the remains. In some cases, it runs alongside existing railway lines. The ruins were described as "on the edge" of the project.

Critics oppose President Andrs Manuel Lopez Obrador's project to damage the environment and destroy archaeological sites.

These finds include pottery, simple stone outlines of pre-Hispanic Maya homes and ceremonial platforms. Two ceramic vessels found with bases or handles in the form of human breasts were a highlight for archaeologists.

These sites were discovered on the 140-mile (228 km) first stretch of the 950-mile (1500 km) train line, which will run in an irregular loop around Yucatan. The first stretch runs from Palenque's Mayan ruins to Escarcega's highway crossing.

The train's first four stages run through areas likely occupied by the Mayas. They built a vast empire of cities-states in Central America and Yucatan between 2000 B.C. A.D. 900. Their descendants live on the peninsula.

The resort-strewn Caribbean coast is the route of the fifth and sixth stretches. The seventh and final stretch, which runs close to Calakmul's jungle ruin site, may yield more finds.

There were no immediate reports on how many artifacts have been discovered on other sections of the project.

Experts knew of some sites' existence before Thursday's announcement, but others are unknown.

In an effort to encourage economic development around the 15 stations, the train will connect Caribbean beaches with the interior of the peninsula. It is primarily intended to link Caribbean resorts with the peninsula's interior. It is estimated that it could cost $6.8 billion by the government, although others claim it will cost much more.

Critics claim Lpez Obrador has rushed through the project without proper study of the effects on the environment, cenotes underground sinkhole caves, and ruin sites.

Some sections of the route have tracks. The institute also stated that some artifacts were damaged by railroad construction decades ago. Other stretches will traverse sensitive jungle terrain but will be parallel to existing roads and transmission lines. The project would involve the construction of new stations and updating existing railway lines.

Some Mayan communities filed lawsuits against the project, claiming it will cause environmental harm. They claim they weren't adequately consulted or that they won't share in the benefits.

2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. Without permission, this material may not be broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.