Submerged archaeology specialists from the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) found in several cenotes in Yucatan a dozen of Prehispanic Maya skulls, 2 Colonial rifles and nearly 50 vessels, some of them dated between 400 and 250 BC.


During the last season, 5 cenotes (sinkholes) were explored and registered to be integrated to the Submerged Archaeological Atlas for Register, Study and Protection of Yucatan Peninsula Cenotes, which compiles information of 28 sinkholes with cultural vestiges.

Archaeologist Lisseth Pedroza, from INAH Submerged Archaeology Sub Direction (INAH SAS), informed that cenotes where Prehispanic and Colonial material was found are: Balmi, Canun Che’en, La Guadalupana, Xkal Xkal and Kan Kab Che’en. Inside the 10 to 45 meters deep flooded dolines (geological term), besides systematic spatial register, researchers evaluated cultural heritage found.

Thirty seven domestic and ritual vessels were found at Kan Kab Che’en; they could date from Late Pre Classic period (400-250 BC). “Some of them are red, egg-shaped, and had funerary use, as intentional perforations reveal; their shape is similar to Roman amphorae, until now, only found in Cuello, Belize”.

Archaeologist Pedroza mentioned that human remains were found in Balmi, Canun Che’en and La Guadalupana, 4 skulls in each cenote, which present cranial and dental deformation, and were accompanied with ceramics fragments.

“Two Colonial rifles were found in La Guadalupana, still being studied to determine their origin (Spanish, British or French) and date, because they might be from 18th century or early 19th”, she added.

Xkal Xkal cenote is 85 meters deep and register was done up to 35 and 40 meters depth, detecting human remains and vessels:”We need to design logistics to complete inventory here”.

Material found was not extracted by INAH specialists because they could disintegrate when taken out from the damp ambient.

“We conducted registration at cenotes by immersing several times, taking ceramic samples to be studied at INAH laboratories”, mentioned the archaeologist, with petrography and luminescence techniques. Results will point out to design a restoration process to be applied in the future.

Lisseth Pedroza warned that most contaminated cenotes are those near settlements, as La Guadalupana. Cleaning tasks were performed and a lot of garbage was taken out, mainly plastic bags. “It is important to raise awareness between population to conserve this natural, historic and cultural heritage”, she concluded.