Archaeologists to Investigate ‘Elaborate Underworld’ of Mayan Pyramids
For the first time in 50 years, the ruins of Chichén Itzá are being investigated by archaeologists. The team from the Great Maya Aquifer Project aim to discover if “local legends of an elaborate underworld are true.”
Built more than 1,000 years ago, the ancient Mayan pyramid in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula will be explored using a modified ground-penetrating radar (GPR) to locate passageways and rooms in El Castillo, also known as the Temple of Kukulcan.
“Something on this scale has never been attempted, but we’re confident that it will help us understand this site in a way that wasn’t possible before,” Great Maya Aquifer Project Director Guillermo de Anda, told National Geographic. “With this data, I believe we will conclusively find out if the local legends of an elaborate underworld are true.”
The radar will also be used to search the surrounding area of Chichén Itzá for tunnels and caves, using kayak-mounted sonar to explore underground water systems, spoken of in Maya oral history but never confirmed.
“In the end, we’ll be able to combine data from these imaging tools and produce a millimeter-scale, 3D ‘super map’ of the entire site, above and below the ground,” Corey Jaskolski, who is digitally preserving the discovery, told National Geographic.
The project is currently underway, with the first two weeks already producing the discovery of two submerged caves and several dry caves, one of which contains a stone carving of a female figure.
GPR has discovered “a number of anomalies” surrounding a chamber in El Castillo housing the Red Jaguar Thrones.