It happens quite often that old legends and folk tales turn out to have a grain of truth behind them, even if the details get muddied over time. We also read just the other day how classic archaeology can be very destructive, as in ruining a 1,000-year-old structure to find the 2,000-year-old structure underneath it. But new technology is finding a way around that.
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In southern Mexico, in the city of Oaxaca, the much older Zapotec city of Mitla lies in ruins. In 1674 a Catholic priest described a bygone temple there as having four chambers above ground and four below ground in which the dead were buried. One of the underground chambers had a sealed entrance to the underworld, called Lyobaa. Spanish missionaries considered this heretical, so in 1533 they destroyed the temple and built churches in its place. The churches are still there, making exploration of the area impossible until now.
A collaboration of scientific and government entities have employed non-invasive geophysical methods to explore what may be underneath, and have discovered underground voids that indicate the chambers may still exist. Read about the ancient city of Mitla and the Zapotec temples at Ars Technica. -via Damn Interesting
(Image credit: Marco M. Vigato/ARX Project)