The National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) of Mexico reported on Monday March 4th the discovery of at least 200 ceramic pieces that remained intact for more than 1,000 years inside an underground ritual cave in the Maya city of Chichén Itzá, Yucatán .
The cave, which was discovered 50 years ago but remained unexplored until now, is called Balamkú and has a labyrinthine path, 24 meters deep below the surface.
Balamkú is located 2.7 kilometers east of the tourist pyramid of El Castillo or Temple of Kukulkan, popularly known as one of the seven wonders of the modern world.
Guillermo de Anda, researcher at the National Coordination of Archeology of INAH and director of the Great Maya Aquifer project, told a press conference in Mexico City that this is the most important finding since the Balamkanché cave in the 1950s.
The researcher pointed out that “the greatest treasure” of Balamkú is that “nothing has been altered, the site has never been looted and we have all valuable information at hand.”
Objects dedicated to Tláloc
The vast majority of objects found are censers dedicated to Tlaloc, the Mesoamerican god of water, used for rituals and offerings in the Late Classic Maya period (600-900 AD).
El Proyecto del @INAHmx Gran Acuífero Maya @ProyectoGAM redescubre #Balamkú, santuario subterráneo de #ChichénItzá. Se iniciará un registro del sitio a través de la creación de modelos en tercera dimensión, sin modificar el contexto. La #cueva fue descubierta hace más de 50 años. pic.twitter.com/ZmIjaJBxmJ
— Diego Prieto (@dprieto_) 5 de marzo de 2019
The archaeologist explained that the investigations have discarded the initial hypothesis of a Toltec invasion of the Maya and pointed out that “there must be an influence from the center of Mexico towards Chichén Itzá.”
The incense burners and vessels discovered in Balamku still preserve charred remains, food, seeds, jade, shell and bones, among other elements that the Maya offered during that time to their deities.
The exploration continues
So far, the INAH team has carried out a preliminary exploration of the first 450 meters of the cave, although it is estimated that this route would be equivalent to one third of the actual length.
Guillermo de Anda explained that they discovered the cave as they were investigating the rumor of an important cenote below the Chichen Itza pyramid.
Meaning of Balamkú
According to INAH, Balamkú means “Jaguar God”, in allusion to the divine quality that the ancient Maya attributed this animal, which they believed had the ability to go in and out of the underworld.
SMT Newsroom with information from yucatan.com.mx