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Yucatán, Mexico

Yucatán, Mexico

Coordinates: 20 50 N 89 0 W

Population: 1,818,948 (2005 est.)

Having studied Mesoamerican history and culture in college, I was quite excited by the piece of news that arrived in my Inbox earlier today. Apparently archaeologists working below the capital city of Mexico’s Yucatán state recently discovered numerous temples in a series of interconnected caves that may have been constructed to resemble the Maya underworld. In order to conduct their survey, scientists had to don scuba equipment to get through passages that were submerged in water. Naturally occurring reservoirs called cenotes are scattered widely across the porous limestone of the Yucatán Peninsula, and the Maya regarded these sites as sacred, often offering sacrifices of precious goods or on occasion, people, into their depths. The types of artifacts recovered and the presence of human remains in this subterranean network points to the ritual importance of these caves as well. A fascinating find to be sure, and one I’m anxious to learn more about soon.

Ben Keene is the editor of Oxford Atlas of the World. Check out some of his previous places of the week.

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