Sunday, August 17, 2008

YUCATAN PENINSULA REVELS UNDERGROUND CAVES THAT MAYANS BELIEVE WAS ENTRY TO UNDERWORLD

Fri Aug 15, 2008

By Miguel Angel Gutierrez

Mexican archaeologists 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. Achaeologists 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.

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

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