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Ancient canal system beneath Mayan temple

AAP logoAAP 26/07/2016

Mexican archaeologists have discovered an ancient water canal system beneath one of Mexico's most important Mayan temples, archaeologists announced on Monday.

The discovery of nine canals 17 metres long "reveals complex hydraulic engineering" under the 675 AD Temple of the Inscriptions in Palenque, a UNESCO world heritage site located in Mexico's southern state of Chiapas, said excavation project director Arnaldo Gonzalez Cruz.

The spring-fed hydraulic system was intended to link King K'inich Janaahb' Pakal, who once ruled Palenque, to the Mayan water deity Chaac, Gonzalez said.

A new analysis of hieroglyphics from the temple showed they may refer to the spring and a symbolic path to the waters of the underworld, represented by the canals, Gonzalez said.

Located in the southern Mexican state of Chiapas, the ancient city of Palenque is one of the most important Mayan archaeological sites. The settlement reached its zenith between 500-700 AD.

Hieroglyphics in the Temple of the Inscriptions recount the city's dynastic history. Pakal's crypt was discovered in 1952 but the hieroglyphics have still not been completely deciphered.

Archaeologists began analysing the site with ground-penetrating radar in 2012, initially thinking the canals were geological faults.

"We decided to study this information and that's how we discovered that it was about complex hydraulic canals excavated directly on the mother rock, just below Pakal's funerary chamber," said Pedro Sanchez Nava, coordinator of Mexico's National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH).

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