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Secret passageway discovered under Kukulkán temple

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Chichen Itza’s feathered “serpent.” Photo: Getty


A secret passageway discovered under the Temple of Kukulkán in Chichén Itzá could shed new light on ancient Maya beliefs.

The underground passage is believed to lead to a cenote.

Scans show what scientists say is a secret passage from the burial chamber. Image: INAH


Spanish explorers encountered the ancient Kukulkan pyramid, the most iconic site at Chichén Itzá, in the 1500s.

Physical evidence suggest that the Mayans sacrificed people into cenotes. Cenotes are formed when limestone bedrock collapses, exposing groundwater underneath.


The passage was revealed by the Great Mayan Aquifer Project, led by underwater archaeologist Guillermo de Anda.

The group used sophisticated imagine techniques, including ground penetrating LiDAR to force electromagnetic signals through the ancient structure.

A secret passageway within a temple at Chichén Itzá is revealed in this INAH image.


The team has not yet physically explored the entire passage, which is blocked by a smaller burial chamber known as the Ossuary.

A researcher crawls along one of the secret tunnels inside the temple. Photo: INAH

‘Through the Ossuary, we can enter the cave beneath the structure and there we found a blocked passageway, probably closed off by the ancient Mayans themselves,” de Anda told El Universal. “We will enter again and this time we will try to open it to see if the passageway leads us to the entrance of the cenote beneath the pyramid.”

Researchers detected a cenote beneath the temple in 2015.

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