Mayan pyramid discovered under the jungle in X'baarun

The dense jungle that covers the archeological zone of X'baatún, located in the Oxhuatz ecotourism park in the southeastern Mexican state of Yucatán, zealously guards a 37-meter-high pyramid, a ball game, a cenote and several structures discovered by scientists from Mexico and Spain.

Mayan pyramid discovered under the jungle in X'baarun. Detail of a section of the top of the structure 37 meters high, originally believed to be 24 meters. Photo: EFE
Mayan pyramid discovered under the jungle in X'baarun. Detail of a section of the top of the structure 37 meters high, originally believed to be 24 meters. Photo: EFE

The findings in the Yucatan peninsula have been in daily news for some years, but on March 6 one of the most important occurred when archaeologists announced the discovery of an extraordinary treasure of Mayan artifacts preserved under the ancient city of Chichén Itzá.

The artifacts were found in a cave called Balamkú, less than 3 kilometers from the pyramid of El Castillo, also known as the Temple of Kukulcán, which is at the center of that archeological zone.

Guillermo de Anda, a researcher at Mexico's National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), said at the time that the discovery "will help rewrite the history of Chichen Itzá," a Mayan center that flourished between A.D. 750 and 1200.

Now the dense jungle that covers the archaeological zone of X'baatún, located in the Oxhuatz ecotourism park in the southeastern Mexican state of Yucatán, is guarding a 37-meter-high pyramid, a ball game, a cenote and several structures discovered by scientists from Mexico and Spain.

"In the most recent excavations we discovered new structures and remains of ceramics belonging to the period from 500 to 300 B.C. to 900 to 1000 A.D.," Spanish archaeologist Carmen Varela Torrecilla, of the European University of the Atlantic in Santander, told Efe.

The researcher, who works in coordination with the Spaniards Juan García Targa, from the University of Barcelona, and the architect Alfonso Muñoz Cosme, from the Polytechnic University of Madrid, and with personnel from the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) of Mexico, informs that the work will continue "until the splendour of the site is restored".

In the first part of the project, she was accompanied by archaeologist Geiser Gerardo Martín Medina, associate researcher at the INAH Centre in Yucatán and Tabasco.

"Dr. Garcia Targa will come to Yucatan next October to continue with the first and second phases of the work plan. New excavations will be made and next January we will all concentrate on X'baatun," Varela said.

The objective will be to rescue the Mayan city "which we thought was a satellite of Izamal, to restore the splendor of the archaeological zone of X'baatún. We want the inhabitants of (the municipality) Tekal de Venegas to feel pride and identity through ecotourism," she said.

The doctor of archaeology revealed that there were changes in the original work plan, when she discovered that the structures did not have the characteristics of those found elsewhere. "The pyramid went from 24 to 37 meters; it is very high base and its base is very narrow," she said.

For Varela, X'baatún is a small city with pre-Hispanic treasures in which the pyramid-cenote complex stands out, "which from an ideological point of view gives sacredness to the space that the Mayas had".

The value of the project lies, according to the expert, in the joint work between the Governments of Mexico and Spain. "We believe in alliances to promote the cultural development of this country," she said.

"Yucatan has a heritage that shines with its Mayan culture," she added.

In 2020, the Spanish government will invest resources to obtain a leading map of the archaeological zone of X'baatún. "With a drone, photographs will be taken through laser beams on the entire surface to obtain a topographic plan of all the structures," said the archaeologist.

Varela also called on the Yucatan authorities to intervene in the site "because they are looting the pre-Hispanic treasure found in Oxhuatz Park".

"In addition, there is a bigger problem: cows from a nearby ranch pass by to drink water to the cenote and destroy the structures. In another area, you can see the illegal clearing of one of the pre-Hispanic platforms and in another body of water they contaminate it with their feces," she explained.

To avoid these problems, the Ministry of Tourism will be asked for support to obtain a management plan and give importance to the ecotourism park and rescue the archeological zone.

"That will result in work for the inhabitants of Dzoncauich and Tekal de Venegas," localities near the archeological zone, it said.

By Mexicanist Source Agencies

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