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In Guatemala, Archaeologists explore a sunken Mayan city

Archaeologists from the Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia (INAH) have investigated a sunken Mayan city in Guatemala. Scientists from INAH have once again investigated an archaeological site located at the bottom of Lake Atitlán. It was here that the Maya established a large settlement on the island during the late Preclassic period (400 BC
Published: April 14, 2022 - 09:00
Updated: July 23, 2023 - 00:31
In Guatemala, Archaeologists explore a sunken Mayan city

Archaeologists from the Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia (INAH) have investigated a sunken Mayan city in Guatemala.

Scientists from INAH have once again investigated an archaeological site located at the bottom of Lake Atitlán. It was here that the Maya established a large settlement on the island during the late Preclassic period (400 BC to 250 AD). It consisted of temples, plazas and dwellings. Over the following centuries, the whole thing went under water and survives to this day as a submerged Mayan city.

Underwater archaeologist in Lake Atetlan Lake Atitlán is a body of water of volcanic origin and fills a huge caldera formed by an eruption 84,000 years ago. Archaeologists assume that it was a natural cataclysm connected with volcanic activity that was behind the sinking of the city. It probably caused the lowering of the lake bottom, which left the Maya settlement at a depth of 12-20 metres.

A team of archaeologists led by Helena Barba Meinecke of the INAH documented the ruins of the city. Their main goal was to make the site visible using virtual and non-invasive technologies. The researchers also focused on learning more about the collapse processes and determining the scale of the settlement.

The archaeological work at the site involves researchers from Mexico, Belgium, France, Spain, Argentina and Guatemala. This year’s research has allowed the relocation and georeferencing of buildings, stelae and structures. This has resulted in a new planimetric map and remote sensing of a large part of the lake.

Thanks to the planimetric map, we can tell that the site measures at least 200 by 300 metres said Helena Barba Meinecke.

She also highlighted the emphasis that the international team of experts has placed on training Guatemalan colleagues. It is local underwater archaeologists who will now be responsible for continuing the work in Lake Atitlán.

It is worth noting that the archaeological site and the sunken Mayan city are protected by the local community. Therefore, diving in the lake without special permission from the local authorities is prohibited.

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About author

Tomasz Andrukajtis
Editor-in-chief of the DIVERS24 portal and magazine. Responsible for obtaining, translating and developing content. He also supervises all publications. Achived his first diving certification – P1 CMAS, in 2000. Has a degree in journalism and social communication. In the diving industry since 2008.
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