Balamku cave in Chichen Itza

Balamkú Cave in Chichén Itzá

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The Balamkú Cave in Chichén Itzá, which was discovered 50 years ago but remained unexplored until now, is a labyrinthine path with a depth of 24 meters below the surface.

This is a discovery of at least 200 ceramic pieces that remained intact for more than a thousand years in an underground ritual cave in the Mayan city of Chichén Itzá, in the current state of Yucatán.

Balamkú means “jaguar god”, in allusion to the divine quality that the ancient Mayans attributed to this animal, which they believed had the ability to enter and leave the underworld.

Balamkú Cave ceramics
Balamkú Cave ceramics

Location of the Balakmú Cave

The Balamkú Cave is located 2.7 kilometers east of the pyramid of El Castillo, also known as the Temple of Kukulkan, one of the seven wonders of the modern world.

The Findings in the Balakmú Cave

The project’s head researcher pointed out that the most important part of this finding is that it’s not altered, it’s not looted, and that all the information was still found in the Balamkú Cave.

Balamkú Cave findings
Balamkú Cave findings

The vast majority of objects found are censers dedicated to Tlaloc, the Mesoamerican god of water, used for rituals and offerings in the Late Classic Maya period (600-900 AD).

The archaeologist explained that several investigations like this one have discarded the initial hypothesis of a Toltec invasion of the Maya and reaffirmed that there must be an influence from the center of Mexico towards Chichén Itzá.

The archaeological artifacts belong to seven offerings documented so far and are in good condition since the cave remained sealed for centuries.

The incense burners and vessels discovered in the Balamkú Cave still preserve charred remains, food, seeds, jade, shell, and bones, among other elements that the Maya offered during that time to their deities.

The importance of the Cave

Balamkú Cave pieces
Balamkú Cave pieces

The difficult access and morphology of the cave hindered the deposition of these pieces and the celebration of rituals, reason why the researchers consider that it was a space of great relevance for the Mayans of Chichén Itzá.

The archaeologist even thinks that this cave is probably more sacred than the Sacred Cenote itself. He considered it was more important because the effort that represents entering is greater than in the Sacred Cenote, which received offerings from all Mesoamerica and there were pilgrimages.

The size of the Balamkú Cave

Balamkú Cave size

So far, there has been a preliminary exploration of the first 450 meters of the cave, although it’s estimated that this route would be equivalent to one-third of the actual length.

The researchers are working on the development of a three-dimensional model of the cave under the premise of avoiding any modification.

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