Researchers at Chichen Itza, a massive Mayan city founded over 1,400 years ago on the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico, have discovered a new secret passage that may be connected to an underground cave at the Temple of Kukulkan. The discovery was made by underwater archaeologist Guillermo de Anda and his team of researchers from the Great Mayan Aquifer Project, who used advanced imaging techniques, such as lidar, to uncover the hidden passageway. Water-filled caves known as cenotes were sometimes used in Mayan sacrificial rituals and the researchers hope to find evidence of such practices as well as additional information about how the Mayans lived.
The team originally uncovered the passageway by using lidar, a form of radar that sends electromagnetic signals through walls and other structures within Kulkulkan to create a virtual map of the temple’s interior. Now that they are aware of the passageway’s existence, the researchers are hoping to pinpoint its location and explore the passageway in person. In an interview with El Universal, Dr. de Anda stated that the Mayans likely sealed the passageway themselves, adding intrigue to what might be discovered behind these closed doors.
The pyramidal Temple of Kulkulkan was built to honor the Mayan serpent god Kulkulkan, of which little is known by modern people. Researchers originally discovered the cenote which lies beneath the 1,000-year-old Kulkulkan in 2015. There is concern that the water-filled cenote, which is fed by an underground river, may be threatening the integrity of the ground on which the temple stands, threatening it with collapse. Some archaeologists suggest that the Temple was deliberately built over the cenote because it was believed that the river that flows below occupied the center of the Mayan universe, nurturing the roots of the “tree,” or temple, above.
Via the Daily Mail