National Geographic : 1961 Oct
television, hoped for "a complete skeleton wearing jew elry." I wanted to see - and photograph - a full set of Span ish armor. And why not? During the conquest, Chich6n Itza was the scene of a battle; one of the Spaniards could have fallen into the cenote. But the most modest and sensible wish came from our expedition director, Ponciano Salazar: "I would like merely to find something Thompson did not find." But first we had to install a derrick on the brink of the cliff to operate an "elevator" for men and equipment. This done, we lowered the divers' barge, a compact plat form about 8 feet by 12. Somehow a crew inched the bulky object down to water level 80 feet below, where it floated serenely. "Our first sacrifice to Chac the rain god!" shouted diver Genaro Hurtado. And sure enough, that night an unseasonable rainstorm blew up. Divers as well as equipment rode the elevator down to the water, for the walls of the well were hopelessly sheer-some sacrificial victims must have drowned sim ply for lack of a way to climb out. Soon we were preparing for our first dive from the barge. The most colorfully clad diver was Genaro Hur tado (page 547). Genaro, a distinguished motion-picture producer, had once made a film titled Monster of the Deep. He wore a leftover costume, a black diving suit with hood and painted scales; so we promptly dubbed him "Monster." At last it was my turn to dive. The whole setting was eerie: The water seemed to have turned to ink. Wavy-bladed wooden object presents a mystery; its purpose and use remain unknown. Conceivably, it might have been used in weaving. Eagle warrior, a popular motif in Toltec art, adorned a jar. Though this clay head lay in the cenote hun dreds of years, it still wears paint. Gleaming beads were the only ob jects of solid gold found in the well. Stylized ceramic mask may rep resent a deity, perhaps a fire god.