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Serious damage discovered at Dzibilchaltún site

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The sun shines directly through the door of the Seven Dolls Temple in the Maya Ruins of Dzibilchaltun as it rises on the spring equinox on March 21, 2016. Photo: Alejandro Medina/Getty

Mérida, Yucatán — Evidence of alarming deterioration at Dzibilchaltún has archaeologists at INAH alarmed.

Cracks, fissures and even some detached elements are signs of wear after countless years of exposure to both the elements and to tourists. The archaeological site, noted for its Seven Dolls Temple, is 10 miles north of Mérida, just south of the Yucatán Country Club.

Various structures on the grounds have been analyzed with modern technology like CT scans or radar, and readings are being evaluated in a clinical lab environment, according to a report in Sipse.

When the results are issued, corrective action, containment and maintenance will be announced.

INAH specialist Ruben Maldonado Cárdenas said a year ago that the Dzibilchaltún is one of Yucatán’s most significant heritage sites.

The Temple of the Seven Dolls is named for seven small effigies found in the interior of the temple, which may have been used as an astronomical observatory. The roof projected upwards from a vaulted ceiling and steps are on all four sides of the building, which was built on a pyramid-shaped pedestal.

According to Yucatan Today, it wasn’t until the 1950s that archaeologists discovered the temple buried under another building. Many other temples there have also been rebuilt and restored.

Aside from the temple, the major feature of Dzibilchaltún is its cenote, Cenote Xlakah. Evidence found by divers indicate that the watering hole had religious significance. Today, it is used as a year-round swimming site by both locals and tourists. The 19-square-kilometers site may have once housed as many as 40,000 inhabitants, making it one of the largest cities of Mesoamerica. 

Dzibilchaltún also contains the remains of a 16th-century Spanish church built after the conquest.

Today, the archeological site has a visitor center and a renovated museum housing Mayan artifacts. The site will remain open to visitors while INAH investigates.

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