Mysterious findings inside this cave shed some light on ancient Maya rituals.

Dozens of hand prints cover the walls of the underground cavern in Mexico. They were mostly made by children, and they date back more than 1,200 years when Maya’s advanced culture was at its zenith.

Archaeologist Sergio Grosjean says the work is believed to be associated with a coming-of-age ritual and that the colors have meaning.

”They imprinted their hands on the walls in black color. What, because black symbolized death, but that didn’t mean they were going to be killed, but rather death from a ritual perspective.”

Others are in red.

“Afterwards, these children imprinted their hands in red, which was a reference to war or life. And then they went out and had safe contact with the rest of society and in a safe way.”

Located near the northern tip of the Yucatan peninsula that houses the popular archaeological tourist site, Chichen Itza, the cave housing these prints lies more than 30 feet below a tree that Maya consider sacred.

Several million Maya still live in communities across southeastern Mexican states as well as Guatemala and Belize.