A group of scientists from the Autonomous University of Mexico announced on 13 August, that a sacred sinkhole cave, known as a cenote, has been discovered under Chichen Itza's Kukulkan Castle Pyramid, a discovery that could shed new light on the ancient Mayan civilisation.
According to scientists, the body of water measures up to 35m across and has a depth of more than 20m. The discovery was made using new technology that involves placing electrodes in the area surrounding the structure and delivering an electrical current to the ground. While the current is being emitted, measurements are taken to determine whether there are sub-surface elements that impede or increase electrical potential.
The measurements generated from this study will then be processed by software designed by the university team and a three-dimensional map of the underground area will be created from the results.
"Remember what happened in the middle of the limestone, where we can have caverns, a subterranean river. It's very possible that the pyramid is sitting on top of a cenote," said scientist, Rene Chavez.
Mexico's Kukulkan pyramid is one of the new seven wonders of the ancient world, renowned for its perfect astronomical geometry. Denisse Argote from Mexico's National Anthropology and History Institute said the discovery of the cenote could provide new insights into why the pyramid was built at this site in the Yucatan peninsula.
"We know that in caustic areas, its surroundings have subterranean waters. So, taking into account the concept of the maternal womb, the origins of life and water which is the original of life, we have a double meaning which is very significant. Therefore, taking all these concepts into account we link it with a step to the sky in magical and religious thinking," said Argote.
The base of the pyramid dates back to the pre-Hispanic age but the structure is believed to have been built over various time periods. The next phase of the project is to place the electrodes on the pyramid structure to make a map of its interior to date its construction periods.