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Chichén Itzá: Recent discoveries about the ancient Mayan city

una gran piràmide en un parc amb arbres al fons i una persona dempeus al primer pla de la foto, David Chipperfield, mapes de to, una pintura mat detallada, realisme màgic


Chichén Itzá, an ancient ritual city of the Mayans on the Yucatán Peninsula, is widely known and recognized throughout the world. Its impressive buildings, such as El Castillo and the Sacred Cenote, have been the stars of films and have been captured in countless travel photographs. However, beyond these iconic elements, Chichén Itzá is home to many other lesser-known but equally fascinating archaeological treasures.

Discoveries in the area near the main pyramid

Approximately one kilometer from the main pyramid, during the construction of a landing strip in 1967, a chultún, an underground construction similar to a cenote, connected to a cave, was discovered. In this chultún, the human remains of more than one hundred children, approximately 3-4 years old, were found. These remains were removed due to the construction of the airport runway, but their discovery raised many questions about the rituals and practices of the ancient Maya.

Ritual sacrifices in Chichén Itzá

The Maya are known to have performed ritual sacrifices, especially of young people. Skeletal remains of children and adolescents, mainly girls, were discovered in the Sacred Cenote. These human sacrifices were related to the cult of the Mayan gods and the search for fertility and prosperity in crops. However, the information we have about these rituals comes from the transcriptions of Spanish missionaries and colonizers, which may have introduced certain biases into the accounts.

New discoveries and genetic analysis

Recently, genetic analyzes were carried out on the human remains found in the chultún near the Sacred Cenote. These analyzes revealed surprising information about the sacrificed children. All the remains belonged to children of biological male sex, and two pairs of identical twins were found, as well as pairs of first- and second-degree relatives. These findings suggest that the sacrificed children were carefully selected and came from the same family or close community.

Furthermore, stable carbon isotope analyzes indicated that the genetically related children came from the same geographic area of ​​the Yucatan and likely lived together. These sacrificial rituals took place over a period of 500 years, suggesting that they were rooted in Mayan traditions and beliefs over time.

Genetic relationship with the current population

To better understand the genetic relationship between the sacrificed children and the present-day population of Yucatán, comparisons were made with DNA samples from a community near Chichén Itzá. These analyses revealed that human remains from more than 800 years ago are genetically similar to people currently inhabiting the region. This suggests that descendants of ancient Mayan families still live in the area.

However, significant genetic differences related to colonization were also observed. The European genetic contribution in the current population is evident in the Y chromosomes, which are transmitted exclusively by the parents. This indicates that European colonizers, mostly men, had a major impact on the genetic makeup of the population, largely replacing the native male genetic contribution.

Conclusions and new questions

Recent discoveries at Chichén Itzá and genetic analyzes have shed light on the sacrificial rituals of the ancient Maya and their relationship to the current population of the Yucatán. However, there are still many mysteries to solve and new questions to explore. Mayan civilization and culture continue to fascinate researchers and visitors around the world, and future discoveries at Chichén Itzá and other Mayan archaeological sites are likely to provide us with new answers and perspectives.

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