Explorer Finds Lost 'Monster Mouth' City
Slovenian archaeologist finds Mayan city of Lagunita
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 22, 2014 5:15 PM CDT
Lagunita's "monster mouth" facade.   (Ivan Sprajc)

(Newser) – Archaeologists have long known of a "lost" Mayan city boasting an incredible "earth monster" facade—and now someone has found it. Slovenian explorer Ivan Sprajc came out of the Yucatan jungle in Mexico with photos of the city, Lagunita, and a second, previously unknown city he's calling Tamchen, the Washington Post reports. Both were apparently abandoned around 1,000 AD along with other cities in the area. But only Lagunita has the "profusely decorated facade with a monster-mouth doorway," as the Slovenia Academy of Sciences and Arts puts it. The facade depicts "the gaping maws of the earth and fertility diety."

Which diety is that, again? "A Maya earth deity related with fertility," Sprajc tells Discovery News. "These doorways symbolize the entrance to a cave and, in general, to the watery underworld, place of mythologized origin of maize and abode of ancestors." An American explorer spotted the city (and its famous mouth) in the 1970s, but no one had been able to retrace his steps in the dense jungle. Now we have Lagunita, with its "monumental buildings," game court for Maya ball, and roughly 65-foot-high pyramid, the Yucatan Times reports. Judging by its buildings and inscriptions on monuments, "Lagunita must have been the seat of a relatively powerful polity," says an expert on the project. (A monster mouth, sure, but there's no sign this time of the evil eye.)