Archaeologists find 1,000-year-old Mayan canoe in Mexico

Well-preserved vessel discovered in underground river during construction of tourist train

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A 1,000-year-old Mayan canoe has been uncovered in Mexico during construction work on a tourist train.

The well-preserved vessel was found during work on the "Maya Train", a controversial tourism project intended to link Caribbean resorts with ancient archaeological sites.

Underwater archaeologists from Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History (Inah) found the pre-Hispanic canoe in a cenote – underground rivers that were sacred to the Maya people.

It was discovered between the southern states of Yucatan and Quintana Roo.

"The small boat could have been used for the extraction of water from the cenote or for the deposit of offerings during rituals," a Inah representative said.

It is the first canoe of this type so well preserved from the Mayan region, researchers said.

Previously, only fragments of these boats have been found in Guatemala and Belize.

The canoe has been initially dated to between 830AD and 950AD, but it is hoped an analysis, with the support of the University of Paris, will in November determine its age and wood type.

Archeologists inspects a cave as part of the archeological work accompanying the construction of a controversial new tourist train. INAH/Reuters

Archaeological finds are common in Mexico, where several pre-Hispanic societies such as the Aztecs and the Maya flourished.

In September, the remains of a staircase were found in a pyramid in the Xochitecatl Archaeological Zone.

In January this year, authorities said that more than 8,000 archaeological objects had been found during construction of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador's Maya Train's project.

Updated: October 31, 2021, 5:17 AM