Archaeologists made a very important discovery when they found an almost completely intact wooden canoe belonging to the Maya that dates back more than a thousand years. They made the discovery at the bottom of a freshwater pool in the southern part of Mexico near Chichen Itza.
The canoe, which measures 1.6 meters (5.3 feet) long by 80 centimeters wide (2.6 feet), was believed to have been used as part of ritual offerings or to extract water from the pool. It was found during construction work for a new tourist railway called the Maya Train that will travel through five southern Mexican states.
According to a statement provided by Mexico's National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), there were ceramics, painted murals, and a ritual knife that were located near the canoe. In fact, the murals contained images of hands and were located on the pool’s rockface (the location is also called a cenote which is a deep sinkhole in limestone that has a pool at the bottom).
As for the exact date of the canoe, experts from Paris' Sorbonne University are currently working on dating it, but it has been estimated as being from between the years of 830 and 950 AD. This was during a stressful time when the Mayas experienced a large political collapse when several cities were abandoned. While it is highly debatable as to what caused the collapse, it could have been due to a combination of drought, overpopulation, and internal warfare.
A picture of the canoe can be seen here.
This news comes just days after it was announced that hundreds of ancient Mayan artifacts were discovered during construction work for the new Maya Train railway. The artifacts, which were unearthed in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, include ceramic vessels and burial sites. According to a statement provided by the INAH, almost 2,500 pre-Hispanic structures, thousands of vessels and fragments, and 80 burial sites were found along the railway route.
The INAH revealed that some of the items of “special interest” include “an offering composed of a bowl and a spout vessel, both with four mammiform supports -- representing the breasts of a woman” that date back during the time of the transition from Pre-Classic to Classic periods (also called Protoclassic). They went on to say that the ruling elite during “important political or religious moments” were probably using the vessels. Additionally, the pouring vessel may have been used for important liquids like perfumes or chocolate.
The items were found by LIDAR sensors, GPS georeferencing, and satellite topographic images.