Mexican scientists found the world’s most extensive flooded cave system that stretches an astonishing 216 miles (347 km) and is packed with artifacts. The maze of caves is a significant archaeological find that guarantees to shed light on the mysteries of the Mayan civilization.
Underwater archaeologist Guillermo de Anda of Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History led the Great Maya Aquifer Project (GAM), which has been investigating underwater caves on the Caribbean coastline of the Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico for many years. The area has 358 freshwater flooded cave systems that extend for over 870 miles (1,400km).
De Anda explained that their success has wide-ranging significance:
“This immense cave represents the most important submerged archaeological site in the world,” said de Anda. ”It has more than a hundred archaeological contexts, among which are evidence of the first settlers of America, as well as extinct fauna and, of course, the Maya culture.”
The current research work took 10 months and proved that two cave systems – the Sac Actun System and the Dos Ojos caves are really part of one connected and, certainly gigantic, cavity in the Earth.
GAM exploration director Robert Schmittner told the Mexican newspaper El Pais how the research team came close a number of times to prove the connection between the two enormous cave systems.
“It was like trying to follow the veins within a body,” said Schmittner. “It was a labyrinth of paths that sometimes came together and sometimes separated. We had to be very careful.”
Now that the researchers revealed that the two cave mazes are linked, they think there are three underwater cave systems that can be added to what is already the largest cave labyrinth in the world.
The extraordinary caves present valuable scientific loot, with divers discovering a huge amount of Mayan artifacts like ceramics, remains (including those of early humans, giant sloths and tigers), and unknown and lost fauna.
De Anda described the caves a ”tunnel of time that transports you to a place 10,000 to 12,000 years ago.”