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News: Mexico
See all photos
Pre-Columbian artifacts in a cave at the Maya ruins. Photo Credit: Karla Ortega/Mexico's National Institute of Anthropology, via Associated Press/ The NY Times.
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by Archaeology Newsroom

A trove with Mayan artefacts has been found in a Mexican cave

At the ancient site of Chichen Itza

Archaeologists researching the ancient site of Chichen Itza in Mexico have discovered a cave full of Mayan ceramic artefacts. The trove seems to be over a 1,000 years old and was discovered in the Balamku cave, about two miles away from the Temple of Kukulcan pyramid at the centre of the site.

About 200 of ceramic vessels were discovered, most of them almost intact, containing bone fragments and burnt offering materials. Archaeological research in the cave started in 2018, according to Guillermo de Anda, an investigator with the National Institute of Anthropology and History. The cave had been found about 50 years earlier by locals and sealed by archaeologist Victor Segovia Pinto, probably to protect it. Last year, a 68-year-old resident of the area, Luis Un, who was a child when officials had been initially told about the cave five decades ago, led the team of archaeologists to the entrance of the cave again.

The ceramic braziers and incense burners, as well as clay boxes and other vessels, date to about 700-1000 AD and were found about 80 feet underground. They resemble Tlaloc, the rain god of central Mexico. Perhaps the Maya had imported Tlaloc from other pre-Hispanic cultures, as they did have their own rain god, Chaac. The items might have been offerings asking for rain.

Chichén Itzá flourished from roughly A.D. 750 to 1200, with a city built on a network of waterways including sinkholes (cenotes). The Maya believed these were sacred places functioning as a portal to the underworld. The site had been under exploration by De Anda and his team, while investigating the underground water system of the site.  When the discovery of the trove was made they were looking for a well.  

Now the site in the cave has to be documented, protected and conserved, and perhaps further research will reveal more findings.

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