A team of archaeologists led by Luis Un have recently explored a mysterious “Jaguar God” cave hidden along Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula, which has remained sealed for more than 1,000 years and is only now revealing its many ancient and precious secrets. Known previously only by the few who lived in the Mayan city of Chichén Itzá, this dazzling cave has been found to hold a treasure trove of ancient artifacts.
As Science Alert reports, when archaeologist Un was just a young boy, he had witnessed this cave himself. However, after farmers accidentally wandered too close to the Jaguar God cave in 1966, it was promptly and methodically sealed up to prevent future intrusion, and remained that way until Un took his own team of archaeologists back to the Mayan cave in Mexico to finally explore it.
Known officially now as Balamkú, or the Cave of the Jaguar God, archaeologist Guillermo de Anda from Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History has explained that archaeologists have so far discovered seven ritual chambers in the confines of the cave, all of which are still magnificently preserved, even after the passing of so much time.
“Balamkú will help rewrite the story of Chichén Itzá. The hundreds of archaeological artifacts, belonging to seven ritual offering chambers documented so far, are in an extraordinary state of preservation.”
Archaeologists Open a Sealed 'Jaguar God' Cave Undisturbed For Over 1,000 Years https://t.co/AcIUKodO9r— ScienceAlert (@ScienceAlert) March 7, 2019
The Yucatán region cave was first believed to have been explored by Mayans between 700 and 1000 BCE during times of intense drought, and in discovering this cave, Mayans not only found their much-needed water, but also discovered that they were much closer to their god here in this hidden lair deep underground.
“For the ancient Maya, caves and cenotes were considered openings to the underworld. They represent some of the most sacred spaces for the Maya, ones that also influenced site planning and social organization. They are fundamental, hugely important, to the Maya experience,” anthropologist Holley Moyes, from the University of California, Merced, noted.
The Cave of the Jaguar God has so far revealed more then 200 ancient artifacts, including the remains of ceremonial food containers, incense holders, and sacred drinking objects. Many of these artifacts were found to hold the symbol of Tlāloc, who was the Mayan god of both water and fertility.
Among these ancient artifacts were trace remains of different minerals, bones, and even food, and once these objects are fully examined and studied, archaeologists will be able to learn more about the culture of the people who once frequented this hidden underworld cavern.
Archaeologists believe that one of the main reasons that the artifacts have held up so well over the years is because the Balamkú cave is so exceedingly difficult to traverse, with archaeologist having to crawl along corridors only 40 centimeters in height just to reach it.
However, now that the Jaguar God cave has finally been unsealed, the future will undoubtedly hold even more extraordinary Mayan finds as exploration continues here along the Yucatán.