Mexican archaeologists confirm the presence of a vast underground Zapotec complex in Mitla, revealing fascinating details about the spiritual Mecca built by this ancient people. The Lyobaa project, launched in 2022, used innovative geophysical scanning technology to explore hidden underground spaces, creating composite 3D models of the Mitla underground world.
Mitla Historical Mystery
For a long time, archaeologists and researchers have been interested in the mysterious stone structures found at Mitla, an ancient settlement in the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca. The Zapotecs, who inhabited the area in pre-Columbian times, were believed to have built a complex labyrinth of rooms and passages leading to the underworld or Land of the Dead, known as Lioba. The myth of the Zapotec subterranean complex has finally been confirmed.
Exploration with geophysical instruments
A group of Mexican archaeologists, united in the Lyobaa project, decided to solve the Mitla mystery. Using non-invasive research methods, they used geophysical scanning technology to discover hidden underground spaces. Tools such as ground penetrating radar (GPR), electrical resistivity tomography (ERT) and seismic noise tomography allowed them to penetrate the ground and create 3D images of Mitla’s underground world.
The researchers’ discoveries
The results of Project Lyobaa’s first season of research were exciting. Researchers discovered many underground chambers and tunnels winding beneath the surface of Mitla. Particular attention was paid to the Church Group, a complex of structures containing a Catholic church built in the 16th century on the site of an ancient temple of the Zapotecs. Colonizers built the church on top of the temple and walled up all entrances to its underground rooms. Spanish colonial documents identify this place as the entrance to the underground temple of Lioba, where the Zapotecans communed with the gods and ancestral spirits.
The Column Palace, part of the Column Group of structures, was also the object of research. Here the researchers found details of the earliest stage of the building, as well as geophysical anomalies, which are probably buried tombs.
The discovery of the Mitla Underworld is of great importance for the study of the history of the Zapotecs and the pre-Columbian era. It allows us to learn more about the spiritual practices and beliefs of this ancient people. The research continues, and scientists hope to uncover even more details about Mitla and its underworld.