The past catches up with the present with this new find.
Tulum, Quintana Roo, (May 18, 2021).- Within the worldview of the Maya, the cenotes represented the gate to the underworld (Xiblalbá), a level beyond heaven and earth. The deities lived there, good and evil coexisted, there was magic inside them that governed the main myth of this civilization.
Due to a new discovery, myth has caught up with reality. Members of the Group Exploración UNDERWATER Grand Aquifer Maya have found a passageway linking two of the caves flooded largest in the world: Sac Actún (a word of the Maya which means cave white) and Dos Ojos in Tulum, Quintana Roo.
This labyrinth measures 347 kilometers (to measure its size, it is almost the equivalent of the distance between Uxmal and Tulum by land), which makes it the largest archaeological site discovered to date.
What they have found there is beyond imagination. Researchers and managers —among them, Guillermo de Anda, an INAH specialist— report that underwater archaeological contexts are dating back 12 thousand years. Skeletons of extinct animals, such as the giant sloth, Maya ceramic vessels, and even objects from Colonial times are some of the underwater finds.
However, getting here was not easy. It was an expedition that lasted more than 10 months and it was necessary to find the connection between the two cenote systems. For his part, 20 years of diving experience and 14 cave searching were the reason why Robert Schmittner was appointed as the mission’s chief diver.
Sac Actún was the second-largest cenote system, but from this discovery, the title will be designated to both caves and the labyrinth that joins them. However, research work continues since it is believed that there are 1,400 kilometers of fresh water in the Yucatan Peninsula alone.
Check out the video that shows glimpses inside both cave systems.