Six Bodies, Some Children, Found in Mayan Sinkhole
Published: 11:52 AM - 08-04-11
The bones of six humans—including two children—jade beads, shells, and stone tools are among the Maya "treasures" recently found in a water-filled cave off a sinkhole at the famous archaeological site of Chichén Itzá in Mexico, archaeologists say.
The ancient objects are most likely related to a ritual human sacrifice during a time when water levels were lower, sometime between A.D. 850 and 1250, the researchers say.
The remains and other artifacts were found about 70 feet (21 meters) into a horizontal passageway into the wall of the cenote.
The only way for the objects to have gotten there, the archaeologists argue, is for humans to have placed them deliberately—during times of drought, water levels were likely low enough that the passageway would have been dry.
They were likely placed there during a ceremony to appease the Maya rain god, Chaak.
Ceramic vessels, animal bones, jade beads, shells, and knives were found with the submerged human remains at the Maya site. These items were likely part of the sacrificial ritual—their presence "is another reason to believe that this arrangement is a mortuary offering," Anda said.
Near the center of the underwater ledge, the researchers found a human tibia—or shin bone—close to a dog skull, a flint knife, and deer bones.
Bones and other items found in cenote.
The discovery of a human sacrifice deep in one the region's cenotes supports the idea that, for the Maya, the sinkholes "represented thresholds of communication with the spiritual and sacred world that lay under the surface of the Earth," said Anda, a professor at the Autonomous University of Yucatán.
Mayan cenote, or sinkhole.
The finding of these undisturbed remains will allow researchers to make "more precise interpretations about what the ritual activity in the cenotes of the important city of Chichén Itzá was," Anda said.
Mayan sacrificial offerings to the Gods
Extending from what is now southern Mexico through Guatemala and into northern Belize, the Maya Empire is noted for having the only known written language in Mesoamerica, as well as for its elaborate works of art and architecture. Chichén Itzá was one of the greatest Maya cities on Mexico's Yucatán Peninsula.
Edited by: Brenda Booth
permanent link: http://www.mysterycasebook.com/2011/mayancenote.html
source & references: John Roach
Photographs courtesy Guillermo Anda
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