Archaeologists unearthed a statue of a Mayan warrior wearing a snake-shaped helmet in the basement of a pre-Columbian temple during the construction of a railroad in Mexico.
The National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) of Mexico states that the 33 cm (13 in) tall and 28 cm (11 in) wide statue was found near Chichén Itzá in the Yucatán Peninsula. It appears to depict a warrior wearing a feathered dress and a helmet shaped like a serpent with its jaws open, and scholars suspect it may have once been part of a larger sculpture built about 1000 years ago.
The pre-Columbian civilization was one of the largest Mayan centers of the Yucatán peninsula, flourishing between the 9th and 13th centuries AD. Tens of thousands of people are known to have lived in Chichén Itzá during its height. The site also features a pyramid called El Castillo, which is about 30 meters (100 ft) high. There are numerous temples, as well as a large ball field and an astronomical observatory.
INAH is working to build a new museum, visitor centers and a train line (The Tren Maya) connecting people to the popular tourist destination.
Currently, Chichén Itzá receives at least 3500 tourists a day. According to UNESCO, this number can reach 8000 visitors per day in season. This situation requires constant care and attention to prevent the deterioration of the prehispanic fabric.
So far, more than one million ceramic shards, 600 human burials, a series of architectural structures, many artifacts and archaeological finds have been recovered during the construction of the train line where the statue wearing a snake shaped helmet was found.
The discovery of the face sculpture at the Chichén Itzá Archaeological Site could be a sign of the contact the people of the region today can have with their past.
Although the statue is broken, it is still standing and well preserved. “It can be deduced that its sculptural parameters agree with those used in the earliest times of the Mayan city” INAH says.