In 1997 archaeologists working in the Parque Nacional del Este revealed they had found the remains of a substantial Taino settlement with three large ceremonial plazas, which could have supported thousands of people in pre-Columbian times.
The missionary Bartolomé de las Casas described the destruction of a city in 1503 and it is believed it could be the same one. The attack had been provoked by the killing of a few Spaniards, provoked in turn by the death of an Indian chief when a Spaniard’s hunting dog was unleashed on him as his people were loading bread onto a Spanish ship. The site, known as La Aleta, surrounds a cenote, or limestone sinkhole, where divers have recovered carved wooden axes, baskets, ornate pottery and other artifacts thrown in the water. It is believed to be a ceremonial site. The plazas, or ball courts are 68 m long, 14 m wide and lined by 1½ m tall limestone blocks. Kitchen areas have also been found, complete with stones used to grind oyster shells embedded with fragments of shell.