Ritual cave use among the ancient Maya

Authored by: Holley Moyes

The Maya World

Print publication date:  June  2020
Online publication date:  June  2020

Print ISBN: 9781138492837
eBook ISBN: 9781351029582
Adobe ISBN:


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Throughout Mesoamerica from as early as 1000 BC, the ancient Maya considered caves to be sacred features of the landscape. As a result, these sites became powerful and important ritual venues, a tradition that continues today. With the advent of cave archaeology in the 1970s, archaeologists have investigated hundreds if not thousands of cave sites and have begun to understand the rich diversity of ritual practices and the implications of cave use within socio/political systems. This chapter discusses how caves were and are conceptualized by ancient and modern Maya people, reviews some of the most important archaeological findings, and discusses recent trends and new avenues in cave research.

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