View Full Version : Portal to mythical Mayan UNDERWORLD found in Mexico

17-08-08, 13:30

By Miguel Angel Gutierrez

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - 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 caves leading into dry chambers -- including an underground road stretching some 330 feet -- was the path to a mythical underworld, known as Xibalba.

According to an ancient Mayan scripture, the Popol Vuh, the route was filled with obstacles, including rivers filled with scorpions, blood and pus and houses shrouded in darkness or swarming with shrieking bats, Guillermo de Anda, one of the lead investigators at the site, said on Thursday.

The souls of the dead followed a mythical dog who could see at night, de Anda said.

Excavations over the past five months in the Yucatan caves revealed stone carvings and pottery left for the dead.

"They believed that this place was the entrance to Xibalba. That is why we have found the offerings there," de Anda said.

The Mayans built soaring pyramids and elaborate palaces in Central America and southern Mexico before mysteriously abandoning their cities around 900 A.D.

They described the torturous journey to Xibalba in the Popul Vuh sacred text, originally written in hieroglyphic script on long scrolls and later transcribed by Spanish conquerors.

"It is very likely this area was protected as a sacred depository for the dead or for the passage of their souls," said de Anda, whose team has found ceramic offerings along with bones in some temples.

Different Mayan groups who inhabited southern Mexico and northern Guatemala and Belize had their own entrances to the underworld which archeologists have discovered at other sites, almost always in cave systems buried deep in the jungle.

In the Yucatan site they have found one 1,900-year-old ceramic vase, but most of the artifacts date back to between 700 and 850 A.D.

"These sacred tunnels and caves were natural temples and annexes to temples on the surface," said de Anda.

(Writing by Mica Rosenberg; editing by Todd Eastham)


Underworld Maya Temples Discovered

Hard to reach complex buildings found at some cenotes

To enter Maya underworld, Xibalbá, a tortuous road had to be walked; at the end, according to Popol Vuh, the sacred Maya book, there was a lake with houses, where hard tests had to be accomplished.

National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) and Autonomous University of Yucatan (UADY) archaeologists think they may have found this legendary route inside caves and cenotes (sinkholes). Several constructions have been discovered in these underground spaces.

Guillermo de Anda Alanis, director of El Culto al Cenote en el Centro de Yucatan (Cult to Cenote in Central Yucatan) initiative, revealed that finding these buildings has been a pleasant surprise, as they seem to corroborate what historical sources described.

“Caves have been modified to house temples probably dedicated to Xibalba cult; considering they are located in hard to reach places, buildings are complex, some shafts reaching 30 or 40 meters long.”

“In one cave a Sacbe, or ritual roadway has been discovered: it is almost 100 meters long, well cemented and constructed as Chichen Itza one. It runs from East to West, and turns where a body of water is found, to end in front of a stalactite and stalagmite column that reminds a Ceiba tree, Maya symbolic ancestor. This is proof of an intentional trace, similar to Balakanche cave, at Chichen Itza.”

The UADY underwater archaeologist detailed the roadway ends in 3 platforms that reach the water. A model is observed in several caves: a natural doorway bricked up with stones to leave a small access, 1 meter high and 60 cm wide.

Some of these spaces kept burials and offerings, such as earthenware and sculptures; dating ceramic tests reveal they were offered between Pre Classic and Post Classic periods, most of them belonging to Late Classic (750-850 AD) age. Among findings, a 1,900 years old vessel is the earliest piece discovered in Northern Yucatan.

First stage of the El Culto al Cenote initiative was research: one 16th century historical source refers to idolatry persecution, where 17 caves and cenotes where Maya practiced rites are mentioned.

To the present day, the initiative is at in situ check up stage, with Yucatan INAH Center collaboration.


17-08-08, 13:33
Intresting !

17-08-08, 13:37
Does it work?

17-08-08, 13:40
Does it work?

Die first, then you'll see :p

17-08-08, 14:36
Very interesting, it'll be nice to see how this pans out :tmb:

There's always a ring of truth to a myth :D