A pyramid within a pyramid? – New discoveries at ‘El Castillo’ in Chichén-Itzá

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MEXICO - A multidisciplinary group of scientists from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) and the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), has confirmed the existence of a second substructure located inside the Kukulkan pyramid also known as el Castillo in the archaeological site of Chichén-Itzá in Mexico. The structure was built between 550 and 800 AD, during the earliest and least known stage of this Mayan settlement.
The investigation was conducted using three-dimensional electrical tomography and results indicate that the substructure would measure 13 meters high, 12 in a south-north direction and 18 in an east-west direction.
The results of the project were presented at a press event attended by experts from the various institutions involved including archaeologist Denisse Argote Espino from INAH. Speaking about the significance of this discovery, Dr Argote Espino said that through the new data, more can be established with regard to the first monumental building stage of Chichén-Itzá, a period prior to contact with foreign civilizations. Like other pre-Hispanic archaeological sites, the original pyramid and other constructions of the city were built over during a second residential phase, between the years 800 and 1,000 AD, and again by the third and now visible stage, developed between the years 1,050 and 1,300 AD.
UNAM academics described the innovative technology they developed using commercial and non-invasive tools of superficial geophysical exploration, placing electrical detectors around the pyramid and transmit current in order to "illuminate" the interior of the temple and obtain data such as potential difference and resistivity of the subsoil.
The analysis of changes in underground physical properties allowed them to establish the dimensions of a second substructure on the southeast side of the pyramid, which would measure approximately 13 metres high, 12 metres in a south-north direction and 18 in an east-west direction.
Given the proximity of this second substructure to the location of a cenote, a natural water-filled sink hole, in the subsoil, scientists hypothesised that the first inhabitants of the city knew the existence of this body of water, which they not only saw as a key element for their agricultural subsistence, but as a cosmogonic representation of the origin of life and, at the same time, of the underworld.
The team is hopeful that future archaeological exploration work will be able to locate the access to the area's original worship core.
El Castillo served as a temple to the god Kukulkan, the Yucatec Maya Feathered Serpent deity closely related to the god Quetzalcoatl known to the Aztecs and other central Mexican cultures of the Post-classic period.

For more information about this projects visit: http://www.inah.gob.mx/