Deep Sea Productions make TV documentaries on underwater research and diving. One of its staff members is Martin Widman, an archaeologist and journalist who has produced several documentaries on archaeological topics. I know the exact date when we first came in contact. It was on September 11, 2001 around 10 A.M. Swedish time. A few hours later the planes crashed into WTC and this gives me a good reason to remember that first contact. At that time I worked at El Pilar and he was interested in doing a documentary on the Maya for SVT (Sweden’s television). The documentary was never made and we also had a brief contact a few years later.
Yesterday I was contacted by another of Deep Sea Productions staff members (Björn Hagberg). SVT want them to make a documentary on the underwater caves along the Quintana Roo coast in Mexico. They will interview me about the Maya and their relation to caves.
These underwater caves are fascinating formations and they reveal some interesting archaeological data. Since they now are filled with seawater it means that they were formed when the sea level was much lower than today (during the Late Ice Age). Remains of humans, ancient fire places and extinct terrestrial animals such as giant sloths, elephants, camelids, giant armadillos and horses located within horizontal passages (and not under a vertical passage) are likely very old. The later Maya deposited objects from the surface into the vertical passages (cenotes).
National Geographic has reported on a female skeleton dubbed Eva de Naharon found near Tulum which is believed to be 13,600 years old. At least three other skeletons (roughly dated to between 11,000 to 14,000 years BP) have been found in such caves along the Caribbean coast of Mexico. Minerals in seawater can alter the 14C content of bones so the dating is problematic. However, since the remains were found 15 m below sea level they must have ended up at the present location long before the sea level rose due to the melting of polar ice caps 8-9,000 years ago. If the dating of her skeleton is accurate the sea level was 60-100 m lower than today. At that time the Yucatan peninsula was a dry prairie.
Eva’s skull indicates that her ancestors may have arrived from South Asia rather than North Asia and this of course is a problem for the Bering Strait migration hypothesis. There is even another skeleton found in the Chan Hol cave that may be older than Eve. These skeletons bear no resemblance to the Maya who live in the area today.