Published On: Thu, Mar 2nd, 2017

Diving with the dead in Xilbalbá, the Maya underworld

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Thousands of entrances to Xibalbá, the Maya underworld, can still be found across the Yucatán Peninsula.

These water-filled sinkholes, or cenotes, served not only as passageways to the afterlife, but as lifelines for the present. In this riverless land, the Maya depended on the cenotes as their primary source of water.

Great cities like Chichén Itzá and Mayapán centered around life-sustaining cenotes, and small villages in the Yucatec hinterland still rely on them.

(Photo: interactive.archaeology.org)

A Mayan glyph. (Photo: Melisa French for interactive.archaeology.org)



Cenotes were also the home of Chac, god of rain, and when the rains didn’t come, Chac was appealed to with prized gifts–and human sacrifice.

From the Field

A couple months after Kristin M. Romey’s first trip to Yucatán, she returned to Merída for another week of cenote diving with archaeologist and professional diver Guillermo “Memo” de Anda.

Romey returned to Mexico to join up with de Anda for another week of exploring the cenotes. Join them as they dive remote sites for the first time! (Photo: Melisa

Romey returned to Mexico to join up with de Anda for another week of exploring the cenotes. Join them as they dive remote sites for the first time! (Photo: Melisa French for interactive.archaeology.org)



Memo is usually quite busy during the school year as coordinator of the Universidad Autónoma de Yucatán’s underwater archaeology department, but he’s still forging ahead in his mission to explore the thousands of cenotes scattered across Yucatan State.

memoskull

Archaeologist Guillermo de Anda and the remains of a sacrificial victim in a Yucatec cenote



A handful of experienced divers have joined Memo and his students for the week to help follow up leads on previously unexplored cenotes in the Merída area. What our team discovers–or, in fact, rediscovers–on this expedition is the most basic tenet of any adventure: if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

…that, and the most wonderful discoveries can happen in the most unlikely of places.

Click here for full information on this six-day archaeological expedition in Yucatán.

Source: http://www.archaeology.org/

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  1. W H Armstead Jr says:

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