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Deep in the untamed lowlands, we search for artifacts buried under hundreds of years of sediment. We are excavating two ancient Maya sites nestled in the sacred landscape of Cara Blanca in central Belize. Both date to A.D. 800-900, when prolonged and severe droughts struck this region, disrupting the daily life of the Maya.
These two structures – a platform teetering on the edge of a 60-meter-deep pool and a sweatbath compound – were part of a ritual pilgrimage circuit traversed by the ancient Maya to pay tribute to the rain god Chahk during the extended droughts.
Openings - Earth - Pool - Portals - Underworld
Openings in the earth like this pool were thought to be portals to the underworld, places where deities and ancestors resided. In previous years studying this poolside platform, we discovered a massive burning event and thousands of ceramic sherds purposely placed on the plaster floor.
Burnings and offerings of this nature were a common practice with the ancient Maya. These were part of termination rituals, meant to "deanimate" objects or spaces and remove them from the life cycle. Everything was believed to contain a life force, making deanimation a critical process for the Maya.
Aim - Year - Understanding - Space - Soil
Our aim this year is to garner a deeper understanding of this ritual space. We scrape away at the soil, trowel by trowel, filling buckets and sifting each one to avoid missing any bit...
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