Cenotes of Chichén Itzá

Cenote (say-NO-tay) is the Spanish equivalent of the Yucatec Maya word for a water-filled limestone sinkhole. In Mexico's northern Yucatán Peninsula, where there are few lakes or streams, cenotes provided a stable supply of water for the ancient Maya people who settled there. The great city of Chichén Itzá was built around a cluster of these natural wells, including the one known as the Cenote of Sacrifice.

Cenote of Sacrifice

(above left) Aerial view of the sacred cenote and the sacbe leading towards the Castillo.
(above right) E. H. Thompson's dredge at the sacred cenote.

On March 5, 1904, the American archeologist Edward H. Thompson, began dredging the Cenote of Sacrifice at the ancient Maya city of Chichén Itzá in Yucatán, Mexico. Thompson hoped to substantiate legends describing this natural, water-filled, limestone well as a repository for the precious objects and human victims offered to the gods by the ancient Maya.

(above left) Gold monkey bell from sacred cenote.
(above middle) Jade pendant, late classic period, from sacred cenote.
(above right) Gold masks from sacred cenote.

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