© ALEJANDRO MEDINA/AFP/Getty Images Thousands of tourists surround the Kukulcan Pyramid at the Chichen Itza archeological site during the celebration of the spring equinox in the Yucatan state, southeastern Mexico, on March 21, 2016
Mayan pyramid hides two more in Chichen Itza
The famous pyramid of Kukulkan was built over at least two preexisting structures, archaeologists claim, comparing the monument to a nesting doll.
The newly discovered pyramid is centuries older than the visible one.
The smallest pyramid is about 10 meters (33 feet) tall and encapsulated within a 20-meter structure which is itself covered with the 30-meter Kukulkan pyramid at the Mexican Chichen Itza site, researchers said on Wednesday.
"It's like a Russian nesting doll. Under the large one we get another and another," said project's chief Rene Chavez Seguro.
The archaeologists used a non-invasive tri-dimensional scanning technique to discover and learn more about the structure.
The oldest building appears to have a staircase and an altar on the top, which may have been filled in and preserved.
Scientists estimate that it was built between the years 550 and 800 A.D.
Its construction "could tell us about the first-period inhabitants," archaeologist Denisse Lorenia Argote said.
Scientists have long known about the intermediate layer, which dates back from the time between 800 and 1000 A.D. It was first discovered in the 1930s.
The visible pyramid was finished between the years of 1050 and 1300.
More mystery under the surface
The oldest layer does not fully align with the second and third layer of construction. This may indicate that there are other buildings hidden at the same level.
According to US archaeologist Geoffrey Braswell, who did research at Chichen Itza but was not involved in the latest project, "the third Russian doll moving in may actually be one of a set of several small dolls rattling around inside the same shell.
"We just do not know," he told the AP news agency.
Last year, the experts discovered that the whole site was built atop an underground river, which was also considered holy by the ancient Maya.
Instead of destroying the old or improving it, they just kept on building on top of it!....
May be that was the model used by the Spaniards that built the church on top of a pyramid in Cholula, Puebla!