Legend says the afterlife for ancient Mayas was a terrifying obstacle course in which the dead had to traverse rivers of blood, and chambers full of sharp knives, bats and jaguars. Now a Mexican archaeologist using long-forgotten testimony from the Spanish Inquisition says a series of caves he has explored may be the place where the Maya actually tried to depict this highway through hell.The network of underground chambers, roads and templesbeneath farmland and jungle on the Yucatan peninsula suggests the Maya fashioned them to mimic the journey to the underworld, or Xibalba, described in ancient mythological texts such as the Popol Vuh."It was the place of fear, the place of cold, the place of danger, of the abyss," said University of Yucatan archaeologist Guillermo de Anda.
for the names of sacred sites mentioned by Indian heretics who were put
on trial by Inquisition courts, De Anda discovered what appear to be
stages of the legendary journey, recreated in a half-dozen caves south
of the Yucatan state capital of Merida.
Archaeologists have long known that the Maya regarded caves as sacred and built structures in some.
But De Anda's team
introduced "an extremely important ingredient" by usinghistorical
records to locate and connect a series of sacred caves, and link them
with the concept of the Mayan road to the afterworld, said
archaeologist Bruce Dahlin of Shepherd University, who has studied
other Maya sites in the Yucatan.
The Associated Press
followed de Anda and his team into the caves, squeezing through tiny,
overgrown entrances and rappelling down narrow shafts and slippery tree
There, in the stygian
darkness, a scene unfolded that was eerily reminiscent of an "Indiana
Jones" movie tottering ancient temple platforms, slippery staircases
and tortuous paths that skirted underground lakes littered with Mayan
pottery and ancient skulls.
The group explored
walled-off sacred chambers that can only be entered by crawling along a
floor populated by spiders, scorpions andtoads.
Archaeologists have uncovered carved stucco panels depicting cosmic monsters, gods and serpents in Guatemala's northern jungle. They are the oldest known depictions of a famous Mayan creation myth. The 26ft long panels were created around 300 BC and show scenes from the core Mayan mythology, the Popol Vuh. It took investigators three months to uncover the carvings while excavating El Mirador, the biggest ancient Mayan city in the world, the site's head researcher, Richard Hanse...'Apocalypto' now for Mel, Maya and historians
Call it "The Passion of the Maya": Mel Gibson is quietly filming a movie in a Mexican jungle about the collapsed civilization. Given Gibson's cinematic history, experts on the ancient Maya are looking forward to his upcoming epic, "Apocalypto," with a mixture of curiosity and dread. They're pleased that Hollywood will feature a period of world history still little understood but worry that once again a movie may sacrifice historical accuracy for the sake of a good sto...Portal to mythical Mayan underworld found
Mexican archeologists have discovered a maze of stone temples in underground caves, some submerged in water and containing human bones, which ancient Mayans believed was a portal where dead souls entered the underworld. Clad in scuba gear and edging through narrow tunnels, researchers discovered the stone ruins of eleven sacred temples and what could be the remains of human sacrifices at the site in the Yucatan Peninsula. Archeologists say Mayans believed the underground complex of water-filled ...Researchers open cave under Mexican pyramid
Archaeologists are opening a cave sealed for more than 30 years deep beneath a Mexican pyramid to look for clues about the mysterious collapse of one of ancient civilisation"s largest cities. The soaring Teotihuacan stone pyramids, now a major tourist site about an hour outside Mexico City, were discovered by the ancient Aztecs around 1500 AD, not long before the arrival of Spanish explorers to Mexico. But little is known about the civilisation that built the immense city, with its ceremonial ar...Pre-Incan female Wari mummy unearthed in Peru
For over one thousand years the Maya dominated Central America, now scientists believe that their demise may have been severely hastened as the result ofthe deforestation that fuelled their oncemighty civilization."For 1200 years, the Maya dominated Central America. . At their peak around 900 A.D., Maya cities teemed with more than 2,000 people per square mile -- comparableto modern Los Angeles County. " View: Full Article | S...Upright skeleton found in Maya tomb
Archaeologists working in Honduras have discovered an entombed human skeleton of an elite member of the ancient Maya Empire that may help unravel some longstanding mysteries of the vanished culture. The remains, seated in an upright position in an unusual tomb and flanked by shells, pottery, vessels, and jade adornments, suggest a surprisingly diverse culture and complex political system in the influential Maya city of Copán around A.D. 650. Located at the western edge of modern-day Honduras nea...Research disputes Maya collapse belief
New research on the Maya civilization which is believed to have collapsed due to its overuse of natural resources and slash-and-burn farming may have actually held a great appreciation forthe environment."For decades, the Maya andtheir descendents have gotten a bad rap from archaeologists, anthropologists, and other scholars who cite the ancient civilization"s agricultural practices for its eventual collapse. . " View: Fu...Possible Aztec offerings found in Mexico
Submitted by Pendekar Timur: Archaeologists diving into a lake in the crater of a snowcapped volcano found wooden scepters shaped like lightning bolts that match 500-year-old descriptions by Spanish priests and conquerors writing about offerings to the Aztec rain god. The lightning bolts along with cones of copal incense and obsidian knives were found during scuba-diving expeditions in one of the twin lakes of the extinct Nevado de Toluca volcano, at more than 13,800 feet above sealevel.Scie...