More News About
The Mysterious Maya
Disappearance From Belize
Chaa Creek’s Natural History Centre Mayanists welcome new data from Cara Blanca
As we posted here earlier, researchers from Rice and Louisiana State Universities recently announced that they solved the mystery of the sudden decline of the ancient Maya empire, putting an end to decades of speculation as to why this extraordinarily advanced civilisation suddenly disappeared, Maya mystery solved in Belize.
While some scientists have for years argued that a severe, long lasting drought was to blame, data collected from sediment found in Belize’s Great Blue Hole seem to provide ample evidence that this was indeed the case.
And the drought theory just received even more credence with the discovery of an ancient Maya water temple at Cara Blanca in the Orange Walk District of northern Belize, where archaeologists think that a “drought cult” offered sacrifices to appease the rain god Chaak in the hope that he would restore the water they so desperately needed.
Reports published in National Geographic News, Archaeology magazine and other sources, describe how teams of researchers have been diving into and working around cenotes, or deep sinkholes that the ancient Maya thought to be gateways to Xabalba, the sacred underworld throughout Belize.
While recording and amassing a rich collection of fossils and artefacts at Cara Blanca, a team from the University of Illinois discovered a water temple complex where Maya pilgrims offered sacrifices to Chaak and other deities.
“The pilgrims came there to purify themselves and to make offerings,” University of Illinois archaeologist and team leader Lisa Lucero, who has been exploring the depth of the cenote and surrounding area for four years, explained, ”It was a special place with a sacred function.”
Other researchers agree with Ms Lucero.
University of California researcher Holly Moyes, who has been working with teams studying other cenotes in the area, including those near the ancient metropolis at Caracol said, “In the big picture, I do agree this was likely a shrine where ritual practices took place that point to times getting tough for people. When you start getting down to actual drought, we are starting to see sacrifices picking up across the Maya world.”
Mayanists at Chaa Creek’s Belize Natural History Centre who have been assisting in hands-on research about the local Maya civilisation for decades, welcome the news, especially as it confirms some of the most prevalent theories about Belize’s earliest inhabitants.
NHC assistant manager Brion Young said that while other factors no doubt contributed to the decline of the Maya, the hundred year drought described by recent research gives a clearer picture of how such an advanced society as Belize’s ancient Maya could decline so quickly.
The new data will also help Chaa Creek’s Mayanists and naturalist guides give guests and tour participants a better understanding of the Maya.
“Since the Chaa Creek area was the heartland of the ancient Maya, and given that the Maya of today make up about twelve percent of Belize’s population, we take Maya research very seriously at Chaa Creek and always want to make sure we have the most up-to-date and comprehensive information available,” Mr Young said.
“This new information is an important addition to our knowledge of this fascinating and enigmatic civilisation,” he added.
The Lodge at Chaa Creek organises tours and expeditions to Belize’s most important ancient Maya archaeological sites, including Caracol, Xunantunich, Cahal Pech, the sacred caves at Actun Tunichil Muknal and more, as well as to the ancient city of Tikal in Guatemala.