Kukulkan Pyramid at Chichen itza
Researchers from the Great Mayan Aquifer Project, led by underwater archaeologist Guillermo de Anda, made the discovery using advanced imaging techniques.
They used ground penetrating lidar, a form of radar, to send electromagnetic signals through the walls and other architectural elements of the pyramid and its surroundings, to map the underground of the temple’s main structures .
They discovered an enormous cenote (also known as a sinkhole) beneath the 1,000-year-old temple of Kulkulkan. The forming sinkhole beneath the temple is around 82 by 114 feet (25 by 35 meters) and up to 65 feet (20 meters) deep. The water filling the cavern is thought to run from north to south. There are known cenotes directly to the north, east, south and west of El Castillo, which de Anda says indicates the settlement pattern is directly related to the natural sacred geography
The location of the pyramid is aligned at the intersection between four cenotes: the Sacred Cenote, Xtoloc, Kanjuyum, and Holtún. This alignment supports the position of El Castillo as an axis mundi. The “axis mundi” or center of the world, which the Maya depicted as a huge tree, known as The Tree of Life. And it may yield more clues about Mayan beliefs.
El Osario pyramid
In 1897, archaeologists discovered a vertical shaft beneath the pyramid of El Osario. also called the high priest temple. The almost 40 ft deep shaft was used as a gateway to a natural cavity found there.
Last November, they explored two underground passageways leading from this smaller pyramid at Chichen Itza, (also known as the Ossuary).
They had hoped the passageways would lead beneath El Castillo, but discovered the Maya had intentionally sealed them off with piles of stone.
Speaking to El Universal, Dr de Anda said: ‘Through the Ossuary, we can enter the cave beneath the structure and there we found a blocked passageway, probably closed off by the ancient Mayans themselves.
The team is returning to the tunnels with the aim of clearing them enough to find an entrance to the cenote under El Castillo. De Anda, a researcher with Mexico’s Institute of Anthropology, believes the excavation will take around three months to complete.
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