Archaeologists in Guatemala have retrieved artifacts from ancient Mayan ruins submerged in picturesque Lake Atitlan that officials estimate could be more than 2,000 years old.
Scuba divers exploring the underwater ceremonial site of Samabaj found the remarkable pottery pieces intact and with detail of carvings and color still evident despite the artifacts spending thousands of years at the bottom of Latin America's deepest lake.
[Rosendo Morales, Exhibition Coordinator, Museo Lacustre Lago De Atitlan]: "We have found pieces in Samabaj dating back 200, 300 B.C. to 300 A.D. of different types such as incense burners that are 1.5 meters tall with four incredible cardinal points.
We are still asking questions about how these items could have been preserved for 2000, 2200 years in the lake until now and still retain a texture that you can appreciate.
Now, the pottery pieces are housed at Museo Lacustre Lago de Atitlan. Researchers believe the artifacts were housed on an island until a catastrophic event, like a volcanic eruption or landslide, raised water levels and drowned out the ancient site of Samabaj.
With investigations still taking place, the exact location of the site is a closely guarded secret, since archaeologists want to protect it from looters who fish in the ruins for artifacts to be sold, sometimes for thousands of dollars, on the black market.
Once complete tourist officials hope to open Samabaj to curious international visitors.