Astrid Ressler- Staff Writer
In January, news broke out in Latin America that a newly discovered Mayan temple had been found in Belize at a site named Cara Blanca. The temple was unearthed within a pool of water nearly 200 feet deep, and it is believed that this underwater temple was used for Mayan pilgrimage.
These pilgrims would have brought offerings and human sacrifices for the water god when severe drought threatened their civilization toward the end of the Mayan rule, which ended around 800 A.D.
It was around this time that the Mayan society turned into what is now referred to by archeologists as a “drought cult.” During this period, the Mayan people tried to survive using any means necessary.
The underwater temple rests beside a deep pool of water and allowed for its people to purify themselves and pray for relief from the drought that was plaguing the area during the end of the ancient society.
It was this time of drought that ultimately led to the collapse of the Mayans.
Ceramic jars and pots have been found near the water temple that have been dated back to the “terminal” era of the ancient Mayan civilization, when most of their cities had already been abandoned and survival was looking incredibly bleak. These jars predominantly have water symbols painted them, such as waves and spirals, or animals such as the jaguar.
It is suggested that this temple was a place where offerings and sacrifices were also made to the demons of the Mayan underworld, as this deep water pool also houses an underwater cave. Caves and cenotes—or sinkholes— were considered entrances to the underworld to the Mayans.
Archeologists assume that human sacrifices started to occur in the deep recesses of the underwater cave when the civilization became desperate for relief from the severe drought. Skulls have been found deep within this cave, not unique to other temples and caves from the Mayan era. It is believed that during this time of distress, human sacrifices were rampant.
What experts can agree on is that this newly discovered underwater temple was most likely a shrine where ritual practices took place at a time when Mayan civilization was deteriorating. This deep pool tucked away in the forest was certainly a special place that saved a sacred function for the Mayans.