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Archaeologists search for hidden cenote beneath the Convent of San Antonio de Padu

A team of archaeologists from the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) are searching for a hidden cenote beneath the Convent of San Antonio de Padu.

The convent is located in the city of Izamal in the Mexican state of Yucatán, which prior to the Spanish conquest of the Yucatán was the site of a Maya pyramid.

Izamal was one of the largest Maya cities in the Northern Yucatec Plains, covering an urban extension of 53 square kilometres. The city was founded during the Late Formative Period (750–200 BC), with the main period of monumental construction taking place between the Protoclassic (200 BC – AD 200) and the Late Classic (AD 600–800).

During the 16th century, Diego de Landa, a Spanish Franciscan bishop was appointed to the convent to bring the Roman Catholic faith to the Maya peoples.

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Diego de Landa was infamous for his campaign against idolatry, in which he burned almost all the Maya manuscripts (codices) and Maya cult images in the Yucatán, however, his work in documenting and researching the Maya has proven indispensable for historians in understanding the Maya culture.

Based on Diego de Landa’s chronicles, archaeologists from INAH have been conducting excavations of the convent’s waterwheel, revealing several pieces of Maya ceramics and ducts that could be connected to a hidden cenote.

Diego de Landa was known for throwing Maya objects into cenotes that were in conflict with his ideology, which the team hope will be confirmed through their research in the coming weeks and serve to better understand the process of evangelisation in the Yucatán.

According to the researchers, the discovery of a cenote would likely lead to uncovering numerous offerings such as sculptures, organic remains and ceramics, which would be a literal “time capsule” of the Maya people.

Header Image – Convent of San Antonio de Padu – Image Credit : Shutterstock

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Mark Milligan
Mark Milligan
Mark Milligan is multi-award-winning journalist and the Managing Editor at HeritageDaily. His background is in archaeology and computer science, having written over 7,500 articles across several online publications. Mark is a member of the Association of British Science Writers (ABSW), the World Federation of Science Journalists, and in 2023 was the recipient of the British Citizen Award for Education, the BCA Medal of Honour, and the UK Prime Minister's Points of Light Award.

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