It had remained hidden for centuries in the rainforests of eastern Mexico.
Now archaeologists have discovered a pyramid-laden ancient Mayan city that could prove one of Mexico's most intriguing cultural sites.
The team, headed by Ivan Sprajc, associate professor at the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts, discovered 15 pyramids, including one that stands 75ft high.
Researchers also found ball courts, plazas and high, sculpted stone shafts called stelae.
They hope the find, made in a remote nature reserve, will yield clues about how the civilisation collapsed about 1,000 years ago.
Scientists have called the city Chactun - "Red Rock" or "Large Rock" - and Sprajc believes it thrived during the late Classic period of Maya civilization between 600 and 900 AD.
The jungle-covered site covers 22 hectares and lies 75 miles west of Chetumal, a sun-kissed destination frequently visited by holidaymakers on city breaks for its museums, monuments and parks.
Although the site was unknown to the academic community, Sprajc found evidence other people had been to Chactun as recently as 20 or 30 years ago, but not since.
He said: "Lumberjacks and gum extractors were certainly already there, because we saw cuts on the trees. They never told anyone."
Sprajc' team, acting on aerial photographs which suggested ruins, spent three weeks clearing a 10-mile (16km) path through the jungle to reach it.
They mapped the site for six weeks and documented the monuments before blocking the path when leaving to prevent access.
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