The Yucatán peninsula enjoys a semi-tropical climate, yet despite its lush jungles potable water is rather scarce. That’s why the ancient Mayas venerated cenotes, the natural groundwater wells formed in the limestone bedrock, as sacred places which could be used as conduits to the Underworld or Xibalbá. Indeed, archeological diving in recent years has found many artifacts which were thrown by the Mayas into the cenotes as offerings to the gods… including of course, human remains.
But now it seems that, for the builders of the famous ancient city of Chichen Itzá, one particular cenote held a special importance: Scientists from Mexico’s National University (UNAM) have recently announced they have detected one of these natural sinkholes right underneath the temple of Kukulcán –also known as El Castillo— worldly renowned for the incredible spectacle of lights and shadows formed at its stairways during the Spring equinox.
“Underneath the pyramid we detected a body of water surrounded by limestone, which indicates it’s very likely [the temple] is seated over a cenote,” said UNAM’s Institute of Geophysics investigator René Chávez. The cavity was located indirectly through 3D electrical(resistivity) tomography, placing 96 electrodes around the pyramidal structure, which showed it had an approximate length of 30 to 35 meters, and a depth of 20 meters; the pyramid rises in one of the corners of this natural inner chamber, so there’s no danger of collapse.
Chávez also mentioned that, prior to taking the readings on Kukulcán’s temple, his team tested the equipment in another of Chichen Itzá’s buildings: The pyramid of El Osario, also known as the tomb of the High Priest; interestingly enough, they managed to detect a similar well below this structure as well; the scientists think it’s possible these two bodies of water could be connected through a subterranean tunnel.
It’s interesting to note that in the Maya dialect used by the builders of Chichen Itzá, the name of the city means “at the mouth of the well of the itza” —itza means ‘water sorcerers’ and it’s how the Maya group who inhabited the Yucatán peninsula in the post-Classic people called themselves.
The group of scientists have confirmed they will carry on a second field study in October, in which they will try to reconstruct the interior of El Castillo, and verify its constructive stages throughout history –Mesoamerican pyramids are like onions, with an original, smaller structure being covered by a newer layer after a given time period, usually concordant with the 52-year cycle in which the 365-day ‘ordinary’ calendar, and the 260 ‘sacred’ calendar coincided, which was of significant importance for all the cultures of ancient Mexico.
More importantly, the researchers want to find out whether there’s an actual passage connecting the cenote with the pyramid, which perhaps would help them understand “why the hell it occurred to them to build such a beautiful structure on top of that thing,” as Chávez put it during the announcement.
My own personal speculation, is that for these ‘water sorcerers’ it was of vital importance to ‘tap in’ the energy flowing through these sacred wells. In my essay for the Intrepid magazine blog titled Across the Coils of the Feathered Serpent, I discussed how it is very likely the ancient cultures of Mesoamerica chose the placing of their temples, in accordance to the same rules followed by other ancient civilizations all around the world; rules Alfred Watkins re-discovered when he came up with the concept of Ley lines –which also seem to be somehow linked to the UFO phenomenon…
Like the waters contained in those sacred chambers to the Underworld, this new discovery will hopefully help the Truth keep seeping in through the dry cracks of Orthodoxy, and flow freely with a fresh understanding of our ancient past.
LINKS (in Spanish):
- Mayas construyeron pirámide de Chichén Itza sobre cenote
- Descubren un cenote debajo de pirámide en Chichén Itzá
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