Early Skeleton Stolen From Underwater Cave in Mexico

By Veronique Greenwood | April 26, 2012 11:47 am

The interior of a cenote

The cenotes of the Mexican state of Quintana Roo are peppered with mysterious skeletons. Over the millennia, these water-filled caves have served as burying grounds and sacrificial sites for native peoples, and in fact, several ancient sets of remains have been found so deep in the caves that they are inaccessible without diving equipment, suggesting that they must have been placed there when the caves were dry, before the ice caps melted around 8,ooo BCE, and putting them in the range of 10-14,000 years old.

Now, though, one of those ancient skeletons, called the Young Man of Chan Hol II since its discovery in 2010, has gone missing from its cenote. New Scientist reports that the National Institute of Anthropology and History has put up posters in bakeries, supermarkets, and divers’ shops throughout the town of Tulum in hopes of receiving tips as to the skeleton’s whereabouts and is considering legal action, though we’re not sure what actions are possible against thieves. Apparently there have been other archaeological thefts from cenotes as well; the cenotes are frequented by divers, and the authorities cannot guard them all.

Image courtesy of Darren Fry / flickr


  • http://discovermagazine.com Iain

    If there wasn’t a market for the remains, they’d still be there. Why anyone would want to keep them in a private collection is beyond me.

  • Liath

    Perhaps they were lonely and needed someone to talk to.

  • ITC

    Definitely stolen by Mexicans – only the asshole mexicans do dumb stuff like this in their desperate attempts to get money while avoiding anything that appears like “work”…

    Lazy Mexican Assholes…

    Written By A Mexican!

  • PoetayPianista

    Ancient artifacts can attract quite a number of collectors –unfortunately–, leading many to try to take advantage and make a profit. This happens all over the glove, irrespective of nationality. I do not understand the willingness to call ¨Mexicans¨ names and surely responsible thieves for taking the skeletons here mentioned. I, for one, have witnessed people from Mexico to be the most responsible and trust worthy of individuals. There may be exceptions, like ¨ITC¨, but generally, it´s the other way around. At least we know that, given the chance, maybe it was ¨ITC¨ (¨a Mexican¨) who stole the ancient artifact!


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