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INAH says more than 1,000 ‘natural features’ located along Maya Train route

Riviera Maya, Q.R. — Over a thousand “natural features” have been identified and more than 100 kilometer of underground route has been surveyed and registered along the Maya Train.

Diego Prieto Hernandez, the General Director of the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) says to date, 1,013 “natural features” have been identified along the rail route that includes bones, offerings and temples in cenotes and caves.

Hernandez says their finding are evidence of the association of these environments with the Xibalbá or underworld of the ancient Mayans. He reported that the INAH has worked with underwater archaeologists, supported by cave divers and speleologists, which, to date, translates into the prospecting and underwater recording of more than 100 kilometers.

The analyzes carried out by experts have allowed the establishment of protection and conservation measures in a total of 1,013 natural features identified in the archaeological rescue tasks that accompany the Maya Train, he said.

Among the most important results of these surveys is the one released in 2021, corresponding to Section 4, where a pre-Hispanic canoe was located in the main cenote of the San Andrés archaeological site in the state of Yucatán.

In that place, a walled cave was also located in the wall of a rejoyada, inside which 35 offerings of ceramics, cave painting, lithic pieces, a stela and material banks were located, as well as a well more than 50 meters deep with human remains, evidence, Hernandez says, that speaks of the importance of the subterranean environments associated with the Xibalbá or the underworld of the ancient Mayan culture.

In Section 5, more than 15 natural features have been prospected that include dry caves, semi-flooded caves and cenotes, which means more than 100 thousand square meters surveyed and mapped with 370 records, especially metates, fragmented and complete ceramic pieces as well as materials from marine shells and bone remains of humans and animals.

“Within the segment of the Maya Train that runs from Cancun to Tulum, in Quintana Roo, the findings at Hacienda Matilde stand out, where petroglyphs were recorded; in the Cueva de las Manitas, with evidence of cave painting and ceramics,” he detailed.

In Cueva 8 Balas, we found with mortuary contexts, ceramics and a temple in the Eastern Coast style. In the Monkey Sanctuary, five petroglyphs and a petroglyph with the figure of a primate were found and the Cueva Garra de Jaguar, which was modified for ritual use in pre-Hispanic times.

Thanks to the accumulation of knowledge, experience and creativity of the researchers, the submerged heritage of the Yucatan Peninsula is being systematically and thoroughly recorded in accordance with the parameters of national and international scientific research.