April 6, 2024
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Sac Actun, the world’s largest archaeological site is underwater in Tulum

In the Mayan cosmovision, the cenotes represented the underworld, a level beyond heaven and earth. The deities lived there, good and evil coexisted, and there was a magic inside them that governed the main myth of this civilization.

On January 10, 2018 the myth has caught up with reality. Members of the Underwater Exploration Group of the Great Mayan Aquifer have discovered a passage that connects two of the largest flooded caves on the planet: Sac Actún (a Mayan word meaning white cave) and Dos Ojos in Tulum, Quintana Roo.

Sac Actun, the world's largest archaeological site is underwater in Tulum

This labyrinth measures 347 kilometers (to measure its size, it is almost the equivalent of the distance between Uxmal and Tulum by land), which makes it the largest archaeological zone discovered to date.

Sac Actun, the world's largest archaeological site is underwater in Tulum

What they have found there is beyond imagination. The researchers and people in charge -among them, Guillermo de Anda, INAH specialist- report that underwater there are archaeological contexts dating back 12,000 years. Skeletons of extinct animals, such as the giant sloth, Mayan ceramic vessels and even objects from the Colonial period are some of the underwater findings.

However, getting here was not easy. An expedition that lasted more than 10 months was necessary to find the connection between the two cenotes systems. For his part, 20 years of diving experience and 14 years of searching the caves were the reason why Robert Schmittner was appointed as chief diver of the mission.

Sac Actun, the world's largest archaeological site is underwater in Tulum

Sac Actún was the second largest system of cenotes, but after this discovery, the title will be given to both caves and the labyrinth that joins them. Nevertheless, research work continues, as it is believed that there are 1,400 kilometers of fresh water in the Yucatan peninsula alone.

Here is a video showing glimpses of the interior of both systems (In Spanish).


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