After a villager notified authorities about a cave hidden beneath the Maya site of Chichen Itza, archaeologists crawled hundreds of feet through passages that were only 16 inches high in places. In the cave, they encountered hundreds of undisturbed ritual artifacts, including incense burners depicting the rain god Tlaloc.
Here’s the funny part – this was actually the second time this cave was discovered! The cave was first discovered by locals about 50 years ago. At the time, they alerted archaeologist Víctor Segovia Pinto to the find. He ordered the cavern sealed and issued a brief report, which was soon forgotten. Last year, locals once again pointed out the location to archaeologists, and this time they decided to actually investigate it.
This sounds like a bungled opportunity by Pinto but today’s archaeologists say it was a boon. Because everything was left in situ, and they plan to leave the artifacts in the cave now, it will remain an intact time capsule that can be studied with the most modern of techniques. Cutting edge 3-D mapping and paleobotany examinations are in the works. And who knows what scientists will come up with in the future? The current plan is that the cave, intact and preserved, will be waiting to be examined by each new generation of techniques.