Portal to mythical Mayan underworld found in Mexico
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.