Friday, December 6, 2013

Videos of the Exploration of the Exploration of Cenote Sac Uayum at Mayapan

The cenote (sinkhole) of Sac Uayum is a large and visually impressive vertical cave located a short distance to the south of the great encircling wall of Mayapan, the Late Postclassic period capital city in the state of Yucatan, Mexico.I first visited Sac Uayum in 1991 while I was excavating at Mayapan. At that time, I became aware of a local belief that the cenote was unusually dangerous because it was guarded by a plumed serpent, and I wondered whether that might be why the cenote was evidently excluded from the circuit of the city wall, which bends inward to avoid it. I mentioned this in an article I published in 2005:

Brown, Clifford T. (2005) Caves, Karst, and Settlement at Mayapán, Yucatán, in In the Maw of the Earth Monster: Mesoamerican Ritual Cave Use, edited by James E. Brady and Keith M. Prufer, pp. 373-402. Austin: University of Texas Press (The Linda Schele Series in Maya and Pre-Columbian Studies).

At the time, I didn't attempt to enter the cave--which would have required  a vertical descent--for lack of both equipment and training.

Fortunately, my friend Bradley Russell has now apparently explored the cave along with Pedro Delgado Ku, Barbara Escamilla, and others. But first, they performed a heets' lu'um cleansing ceremony to protect themselves from the evil winds and spirits in the cave. I paste below a link to a video the Bradley posted on Youtube showing the ceremony. Below that, I have also embedded links to three other videos showing the exploration of the cave itself.  I remember the cave as having deep water covering the entire floor, so not surprisingly, they used scuba diving to explore it, as you can see in the videos.The videos and photographs are high quality.

Outstanding, Bradley! What fun! Great work!

There is a National Geographic article online about their work, which was supported in part by the Society. Here's a link to a number of other videos about Brad's research on the National Geographic website.

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