Hundreds of Items Discovered Near Ancient Maya’s ‘Door to Underworld’

Archaeologists have found signs of religious rituals and sacrifices in a holy lake of the Maya people

A research team of Poland’s Jagiellonian University has discovered hundreds of artefacts near the island of Flores upon Lake Peten Itza in the north of the country.

Today on the island sits the town of Flores with a population of nearly 20,000, but in pre-Colombian times, it was the location of Nojpeten (also known as Tayasal), the capital city of the Itza Maya kingdom.

The island capital, surrounded by dense rainforest, surrendered to the Spanish conquest as late as 1697 − over 150 years after the conquest of the rest of the Yucatan Peninsula, which makes Itza the last kingdom to have been conquered by European colonisers.

Polish archaeologists discovered several hundred artefacts in the holy lake of the Maya

Polish scientists have found more evidence to substantiate the assumption that lakes were considered holy places in Maya’s religious tradition. The Maya people are understood to have sacrificed animals and sometimes humans in lakes to propitiate the gods.

Hundreds of Items Discovered Near Ancient Maya's 'Door to Underworld'

In the area of the El Hospital island, archaeologists discovered of a large shell from the Caribbean Sea on the bottom. Which indicates that the Maya had contacts with the inhabitants of the Caribbean Coast.

“Such a shell could be used as a music instrument. It could also be connected to the elites or the symbolic sphere. Because objects were associated with births, rituals of maturation, sacrificial offerings, war, the underworld and death” – Krzemień says.

Hundreds of Items Discovered Near Ancient Maya's 'Door to Underworld'

The project leader emphasizes that all artefacts were located on the surface of the lake bed. They did not even have to be excavated. “Considering the number of objects we discovered on the surface, we would probably find even more during excavations. Therefore, we plan to continue our research” – informs Krzemień.

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