2,300-year-old Mayan ceremonial site found in Yucatan

3 intact pre-Hispanic buildings and a cenote with 5 burial sites are unearthed

A newly announced ancient settlement in Yucatan dates from the middle-upper Preclassic period, or around 300 BC. Photo: INAH
A newly announced ancient settlement in Yucatan dates from the middle-upper Preclassic period, or around 300 BC. Photo: INAH

A 2,300-year-old pre-Columbian ceremonial site called Múusench’een has been uncovered outside Valladolid.

The ancient settlement dates from the middle-upper Preclassic period, or around 300 BC, and is hidden between two ancient Mayan sites, said Víctor Castillo Borges, who led the exploration project for INAH, the National Institute of Anthropology and History.

The site consists of three intact pre-Hispanic buildings, of which two adjoin the interior of the cave and one more that is precisely above it. In a hollow, a cenote contains five burial sites.

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The graves most likely contain the remains of Maya leaders considered important at the time.

The cave still fulfills the primordial function of providing the Mayan priests with “virgin” cenote water for ritual ceremonies.

“The site is still considered a sacred space,” said Castillo Borges. “Those in charge of the exploration and rescue of the burials had to perform two ceremonies to enter. At the same time, the workers performed a ritual every day before they started working inside the cave.”

The discovery was officially announced at the V Mayan Culture Symposium in the INAH Yucatan Center.

There, Castillo Borges explained that the cave is right in the middle of the archaeological sites of Ebtún and Cuncunul.

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The site was discovered in 2017 when archaeologists examined land set aside for a solar energy park. The land turned out to be more important than originally thought.

Although it may not have an importance as a tourist site, it does have it as a cultural site, the archaeologist said.

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