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Cenote detected under Chichén Itzá

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Rene Chavez, right, researcher at the Institute of Geophysics of the National Autonomous University of Mexico, (UNAM), speaks next to Arturo Iglesias, director of the Institute, during a press conference Thursday in Mexico City. AP photo
Rene Chavez, right, researcher at the Institute of Geophysics of the National Autonomous University of Mexico, (UNAM), speaks next to Arturo Iglesias, director of the Institute, during a press conference Thursday in Mexico City. AP photo

Speculation over symbolism of cenotes found at Chichén Itzá; possible medicinal garden found at Uxmal

The discovery of a cenote under ancient Chichén Itzá was hailed an important find yesterday at a press conference held in Mexico City.

Experts from the UNAM, the National Autonomous University, confirmed the existence of an underground river about 20 meters deep below the pyramid of Kukulkan, also known as El Castillo.

The electronic survey revealed a danger sign. One corner of the pyramid is resting on the underground chamber, placing the monument at risk of collapse.

But speculation over the cenotes’ symbolism dominated discussion. Archaeologist Guillermo de Anda told the Associated Press that the study may confirm that the Mayas included symbolic maps of their cosmology in their temples and sacred sites. The cenotes that surround the pyramid could represent the four points of the compass, he said, and the river at the center might represent the center of the Maya’s universe, which they thought of as a tree with roots reaching below ground.

Also Thursday, the National Institute of Anthropology and History said research at another Mayan site, Uxmal, detected more medicinal plants growing near the sacred “governor’s palace” than at surrounding fields. Uxmal site director Jose Huchim Herrera said the Mayas planted them there as a sort of medicinal garden.

The site has about 150 species used to treat snake bites, stomach infections and fevers

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