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Saturday, January 28, 2023

Outrage over new threats to recently discovered Mayan ruins in the path of the Mayan Train

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Carlos Rosado van der Gracht
Carlos Rosado van der Gracht
Born in Mérida, Carlos Rosado van der Gracht is a Mexican/Canadian blogger, photographer and adventure expedition leader. He holds degrees in multimedia, philosophy and translation from universities in Mexico, Canada and Norway. Sign up for the Yucatán Roundup, a free newsletter, which delivers the week's top headlines every Monday.
Archaeologists warn that millennia-old temples hidden within cenotes are in imminent danger of being destroyed because of the Mayan Train. Photo: Courtesy

The construction of the Mayan Train in Yucatán has brought a ballooning budget, environmental damage, and a series of incredible archaeological discoveries.

But a growing chorus of archaeologists in Mexico and abroad are now expressing serious concerns regarding the Mexican government’s commitment to preserving these ancient sites.

These voices have only become louder since the government announced the construction of large overpasses over structurally unstable terrain above previously undiscovered cenotes.

The ruins of one of 300 Mayan structures recently discovered in Quintana Roo. Photo: Courtesy

What makes matters even more complicated is that within these cenotes, archaeologists have now discovered previously unknown archaeological sites of extraordinary cultural and scientific value.

“Sites like this are not exactly a dime a dozen. We have long known that the Maya built structures within cenotes as symbolic points of access to Xibalba (the Mayan realm of the dead), but the scope of what we are finding now is simply extraordinary,” said an INAH archaeologist who asked to only be identified as Miguel. 

Earlier: Mexico has no plan to undo environmental devastation from Mayan Train project

These discoveries located between Playa del Carmen and Tulum are now forcing the federal government to consider remapping the path of the Mayan Train’s Route 5 once again after a judge ruled that the original path would cause unacceptable levels of environmental devastation.

During the past week, international attention has turned to preserving these ancient Mayan sites thanks to journalists’ reporting, including Kevin Sieff from the Washington Post. 

Critics of the Mayan Train at home and abroad, including Sieff, are now calling for a stop to all construction until the area can be properly surveyed to ensure the preservation of these ancient monuments. 

“It may be time to consider the cancellation of the Mayan Train. We should be prioritizing the Mayan way of life and culture, not the interests of the government and business,” said Pedro Uc, representative of the Asamblea de Defensores del Territorio Maya Múuch Xíinbal.

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