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Underwater archaeologists explore last Mayan bastion in Guatemala

Polish underwater archaeologists intend to carry out a wonderful and daring project. They won’t be able to do it if we all don’t support them in this unusual adventure leading to the last bastion of the Mayan civilisation in Guatemala. Indian artefacts, traces of battles waged against the conquistadors from Europe, all this awaits our
Published: July 14, 2018 - 13:09
Updated: July 22, 2023 - 17:02
Underwater archaeologists explore last Mayan bastion in Guatemala

Polish underwater archaeologists intend to carry out a wonderful and daring project. They won’t be able to do it if we all don’t support them in this unusual adventure leading to the last bastion of the Mayan civilisation in Guatemala. Indian artefacts, traces of battles waged against the conquistadors from Europe, all this awaits our compatriots in a distant corner of the world. Be sure to take a look here and leave your mark!

The relics of the last capital of the pre-Columbian Maya, Tayasal, located on Lake Petén Itzá – that is, a bastion of defence against European conquerors – will be examined by underwater archaeologists from Poland. They expect to find cult vessels and traces of battles with the conquistadors there.

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Tayasal was the capital of the last of the ancient Maya groups to resist attacks by European conquerors nearly 200 years after their arrival in Central America. It was situated on a peninsula on Guatemala’s vast Lake Petén Itzá.

The research will start in August. One of their aims is to collect traces of the great battle that took place in 1697. – as a result of which the last independent Mayan stronghold fell.

[blockquote style=”2″]”In order to capture the city, the Spaniards launched numerous galleys onto the waters of the lake, from which they attacked the Maya with both small arms and firearms. There are probably many relics lying under the surface of the lake’s water, thanks to which it will be possible to reconstruct in detail this battle, which is significant for the history of Mesoamerica,” says the leader of the Polish team, an archaeologist from the Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Magdalena Krzemień.[/blockquote]

Polish divers are also interested in the Maya ceremonial sphere. There is a chance to get to know it better, as there used to be places of worship in the area of today’s water reservoirs.

[blockquote style=”2″]”Water, an element of the sacred Maya landscape, had, for members of this civilization, above all, a unique symbolic significance – it was seen as a medium through which the dead pass to the underworld,” Flint explains.”[/blockquote]

Water reservoirs were also seen as places strongly associated with Chaak, the god of rain, on whom rainfall, and therefore the fertility of crops, depends.

[blockquote style=”2″]”Not surprisingly, the Maya paid special attention to him, offering him numerous gifts. Chaak was believed to inhabit caves, both dry and flooded. Hence, a great number of sacrificial offerings of various kinds have found their way into bodies of water over the centuries,” adds the project leader.[/blockquote]

[blockquote style=”2″]”The proposed project is innovative, due to the fact that it will be the first comprehensively conducted underwater survey in this part of Guatemala and one of the few such surveys in the entire country in general.” – believes Flint.[/blockquote]

Already in previous decades, divers from the USA and France, among others, dived in search of relics in this lake. Each time they came across numerous specimens, including historic ceramic vessels. However, the scope of their work was limited and the lake covers an area of nearly 100 km2.

Researchers will also try to verify a popular legend. According to it, the Maya carved in stone a horse of the famous conquistador, Hernán Cortés. It is supposed to rest submerged in the lake.

The need for the study of Lake Petén Itzá is supported by the results of similar work in other bodies of water within Guatemala as well. So far, beautifully decorated ceremonial vessels, stone obliterators, or anthropomorphic ladles – cult vessels in which incense was burned during rituals – have been discovered in them. There are even discoveries of architectural elements – basalt columns were found in Los Organos Lake.

The research will take four weeks. The archaeologists hope to be able to continue it in the following years. The project is privately funded by Sebastian Lambert, Joerg Hahn, the Ampliz and POL – KOP companies and by the University of Warsaw’s Student Research Advisory Board.

Be sure to take a look here and leave your mark!

PAP – Science in Poland, Szymon Zdziebłowski

Source: www.naukawpolsce.pap.pl

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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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