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  'Unknown city' discovered in Central America
Updated 19 May 2003, 21.21

Archaeologists dig for clues (Picture: UNAN - Managua, UAB, CSIC)
Archaeologists dig for clues
Archaeologists think they may have found a secret, unknown civilisation in Central America.

They have spent six years digging around a site at El Cascal near the Atlantic coast of Nicaragua.

And in true Indiana Jones style, they have discovered lots of rare relics. That's what archaeologists call treasures they find, like bits of pottery, monuments and rock paintings.

Clues from the relics suggest the civilisation was there a long time before the famous Mayans, who lived from 2000BC to 100AD.

They reckon the main town area and small villages around it are about 2,700 years old.

Ancient stone carvings (Picture: UNAN - Managua, UAB, CSIC)
Ancient stone carvings

The archaeologists think it might have been a kind of factory city which produced stone monuments for ancient rituals for about 1,000 years.

But then, the civilisation suddenly disappeared and they don't know why.

Important

The find is important because it helps explain how the huge ancient Mayan cities came about.

And it shows those cities relied on others which were much further away than experts first thought.

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