In Mexico, the archaeological ruins of Chichen Itza draw millions of tourists every year. It's a city built by the ancient Maya, which was then mysteriously abandoned to the jungle hundreds of years ago. Yet archaeologists continue to make new discoveries in a city they believe only a fifth of which has been discovered.
A recent investigation into the Balamku Cave, close by the Pyramid of Kukulcan, which draws millions of tourists every year, revealed more than 50 ancient artifacts left behind by the ancient Maya. The investigation was led by archaeologist Guillermo de Anda, who spoke with CGTN at the cave's mouth.
“This cave, Balamku, is going to help us to rewrite the history of this city,” he told CGTN.
The team found incense burners, water carriers and pots, evidence of religious ceremonies.
“We have found seven offerings. All of them in a very good state of preservation, it looks like they were deposited by the ancient Maya yesterday,” Mr. de Anda said. And the team even has an idea of why these artifacts were hidden away in the depths of a cave within the bowels of the city.
“Why did they take this water to go in there? To this place where mortals, the people on the surface, were not going to see?” he asked.
“We believe it was an act of desperation in a time of drought. What they were doing is trying to call the attention of the Water God, we believe, to produce rain.”
Yet while the ancient city of Chichen Itza may be abandoned, the Maya continue to inhabit the Yucatan Peninsula, and the culture is alive and well today.
CGTN met with Mario Dzul, a Maya who – after years of saving his money – built his house in the traditional Maya style.
“I'm proud of being Maya, and I want my culture to survive," he told CGTN. “That's why we're doing this. We learned these techniques from my grandmother, who learned them from hers. They are traditions passed down through many generations.”
As archaeologists continue to discover the secrets left behind by an ancient civilization, they are looking at the roots of a culture that continues to survive in the 21st century.