It is like a “time capsule” of Maya life. The Izamal cenote contains offerings, ceramic pieces and ancient sculptures. It has another peculiarity. It is the Mayan cenote hidden for 2500 years.
Izamal is a tiny village in the Yucatan Peninsula. It is a few hours from Merida, the capital. It attracts international attention with its classic yellow houses. No one would imagine that, underneath this town, there would be an ancient sacred cenote.
Hidden under the convent
It was under the iconic convent of San Antonio de Padua. It is one of the most visited tourist attractions in Izamal. It appeared under the wide quarry arches that support the structure of the enclosure. There was the Mayan cenote hidden 2500 years ago.
Yucatan is rich in cenotes. There is a subway system that connects the entire peninsula. These natural ‘highways’ run beneath the surface hundreds of millions of years ago and were formed hundreds of millions of years ago. The Maya used them as places of worship and devotion, almost as if they were the maw of the underworld.
When the Spanish encountered the cosmogonic and religious development of the Maya, they immediately branded it as idolatry. On the ancient sacred space that represented the cenote of Izamal, they erected a convent. Thus, the ancient Maya knowledge sank into the depths of the water. Literally. Centuries later, the convent of San Antonio de Padua was listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
Archaeologists from the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) were investigating Maya life during colonial times. It was then that they found this cenote in Izamal.
It seems that the Spaniards threw several of the “idolatry” objects into the Izamal cenote. They sought to impose a new religious narrative on the region. However, with the INAH excavations, some of these ancient pieces have been recovered.
Among them, there are offerings, sculptures, ceramic pieces, organic remains and others. Some of these objects are as old as the Formative Period, between 750 and 200 AD. This helps to better understand the evangelization process in the area. For this reason, scientists consider this cenote in Izamal to be a “time capsule”.