Evidence of human sacrifice has been found in association with demonic rituals of the past. Archaeologists believe they’ve found the Mayan ‘gateway to the underworld.’
Runes and ruins were uncovered just meters from where the ancient civilization fought their final battle with Spain at Lake Petén Itzá in Guatemala.
Magdalena Krzemień, team leader of Poland’s Jagiellonian University, reported: “Water had very special and symbolic meaning in ancient Maya beliefs.
“It was thought to be the door to the underworld, the world of death – Xibalba, where their gods live.”
“We planned our dives according to written sources and a little bit of intuition. We wanted to check places that seem to be very important in the history of the Itza Maya group.”
“In most of them, we found a lot of artifacts.”
The team argues that these artifacts were either dropped or lowered into the lake by the Maya as an offering to the gods.
One of the artifacts now recovered is an obsidian blade that may have been used to make blood sacrifices.
“Ancient Maya used blades like this during their rituals,” said Magdalena.
“They could make blood-letting offerings or even kill somebody to offer human blood to the gods.”
Among the other artifacts from the lake-bed are an incense burner and ceramic vessels, including some containing animal bones and one carved with rites.
Until conquistador Martín de Ursúa y Arismendi stormed the island on March 10, 1697, this was the last independent native kingdom in the Americas.
Magdalena said: “Most of the written sources say that the battle between the Spaniards and the Maya, who lived in Nojpeten, took place on the west side of the island.”
“We found an artifact in this area – a Maya stone mace head which can be related with the battle.”
She added: “It seems we have confirmed the location of the last battle between the Maya and Spaniards, and we probably found the area of the ritual activity of the Itza.
“That is a great beginning to the process of better learning their customs, beliefs, and culture.”
Relics used for ceremonies excavated from the lake-bed are pre-Columbian, dating from 150BC up to 800AD.
To be held under importance, Magdalena keenly emphasizes that her team have only undertaken reconnaissance of the sites, and not complete excavations.
As she suggested: “We should make underwater excavations to be sure if the area we found these objects in was the area of ceremonial activity.
“Right now we can’t be sure about the context of the objects, and whether their location is not the result of water movement or other factors.”
“But if we can confirm that, in this area, the ritual objects were found in situ – and we think two ceremonial objects were – at least one part of the lake could be called sacred.”
“We already have the general view of where we should make much more complex excavations in coming years,” she added.
Sponsored by Sebastian Lambert and Iga Snopek, the team are planning their next expedition to Lake Petén Itzá for August.
Flores, the island is today home to a town of the same name and is linked by a causeway to the shore.