The ancient Mayan civilization was the only one in the Americas with its own writing system before the arrival of European colonization, and a great point of pride in Mexico and Guatemala. A rich culture and pre-Columbian empire, archaeologists and anthropologists are always looking to deepen the world’s knowledge on this fascinating culture – and they’ve just hit jackpot in Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula.

Last week, scientists reached a new breakthrough in an ongoing investigation in the Maya region, particularly its underwater caves. Archaeologists found human remains and a few ceremonial relics in the confines of the Yucatan cave systems, which will lead to a better understanding of ecology in this ancient civilization.

Some of the human remains could be as old as 9,000 years of age.

It appears that this massive underwater cave was once a place of heavy traffic, particularly for those in the business of trade. A leading hypothesis says that this was once a sacred area that served as a temple to the Mayan god of trade. The idea that there may have been rituals performed here stems from findings of rooms with offerings, as well as censers and ceramic vessels.

The new findings were announced at Mexico City’s world-famous National Museum of Anthropology and History, home to the iconic Aztec sunstone.

 

While there were fascinating anthropological discoveries, there were even more of a biological nature. The first key finding was weeks ago, when divers found that two large caves in the area were connected, which might make this the largest known underwater cave in the world. Later, remains of ancient animals were also found, among them Pleistocene-era bears and giant sloths.

Deeper studies on the subject could shed some light on the interaction between ancient Mayans and their surroundings, in both flora and fauna. As this was, and still is, a culture with a deep respect towards nature, this insight could even turn into a beacon of green practices.