Skeletons of Sacrifice Victims Found in Cenote Near Chichen Itza

May 26th, 2011 by ejalbright

Skull and artifacts at bottom of cenote near Chichen Itza

Chichen Itza’s famous Sacred Well was not the only body of water where human beings were sacrificed in the days of the ancient Maya, Mexican archaeologists revealed recently.

The Yucatan Peninsula is punctured with thousands of sinkholes known as “cenotes.” One of the biggest and most impressive is the Cenote Sagrado or Sacred Well of Chichen Itza. Excavations of the cenote have found hundreds of human skeletons as well as thousands of artifacts of gold, jade, and pottery. Archaeologists believe that the ancient Maya sacrificed people and objects into the well as offerings to the rain god Chac.

In recent years, archaeologists have explored other cenotes throughout the Yucatan Peninsula and found remains of sacrifice. Earlier this year Mexican archaeologists announced they had found a cenote in the state of Quintana Roo that rivaled Chichen Itza in the quantity of artifacts and skeletons.

Now comes word of a discovery that appears to demonstrate that the Cenote Sagrado was not the only sinkhole to receive sacrifices by the Maya who populated Chichen Itza and environs.

Underwater archaeologists discovered the remains of as many as six sacrificial victims as well as offerings of pottery vessels, jade beads, shells, knives and other objects in another cenote some 1.5 miles from the Cenote Sagrado. The objects were found in an underwater niche in the wall of natural well. Archaeologists believe the objects date from the ninth and tenth centuries, placed during periods of severe drought.

In addition to the finding in the niche, divers discovered the remains of an additional 20 victims at the bottom of the cenote.

The discovery was made by researchers at Universidad Autónoma de Yucatán (Autonomous University of Yucatan) in Merida, under the supervision of INAH, the Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia (National Institute of Anthropology and History).

Read the INAH press release on the discovery HERE.

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