Ancient Mayan underworld discovered in Mexico

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Archeologists in Mexico think they might have discovered Xibalba, a mythical Mayan underworld also known as the "place of fear." After some serious scuba diving and inching across deeply submerged underwater tunnels near the Yucatan peninsula, investigators reached an entrance to a bunch of dry chambers with the stone ruins of eleven sacred temples and a 330-foot long road. There were also lots and lots of human bones. According to the ancient Mayan scripture Popol Vuh, the entrance to Xibalba was once protected by rivers filled with blood, scorpions, and pus, and houses swarming with shrieking bats.

Link to Reuters article
Xibalba on Wikipedia (Thanks, Baker!)

( Lisa Katayama is a guest blogger.)

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  1. RE: “the entrance to Xibalba was once protected by rivers filled with blood, scorpions, and pus, and houses swarming with shrieking bats”

    Wow, and I’ve been relying on ADT for years.

  2. Sweet! My right arm is tattooed with a monster that represents the road to Xibalba – with the monsters mouth being the cave entrance.

    Tho I’m still wondering if this is the one and only Xilbalba or if there was a more general belief that caves lead to the underworld. Given other Mayan cave sites I’ve seen I’d venture on the later…

  3. They featured it on that “underworld” (or “underground” I can’t remember.) TV show I think on discovery channel a few weeks ago. It was pretty interesting.

    #3: I think in the show they said it “represented” the underworld, but I got the impression that they didn’t really know for sure.

  4. Huh? It links to Harper.com .
    While that would have been interesting, I’m not sure where you get that link…

  5. i just think it’s pretty darn cool that there are still things out there like this yet to be discovered.

  6. So cool. I live in the Yucatan Peninsula. Don’t think they give out the exact location, though. Probably to keep junkies and hookers out of the caves, a la seattle futuristic public restrooms?

  7. And to think, they went out on that expedition looking for the *christian* hell… Imagine their surprise!

  8. he entrance to Xibalba was once protected by rivers filled with blood, scorpions, and pus, and houses swarming with shrieking bats

    And to think that all that natural beauty had to give way to condos…

  9. the entrance to Xibalba was once protected by rivers filled with blood, scorpions, and pus, and houses swarming with shrieking bats.

    I think I went there on holiday this Summer.

    (note to Fodors: You lied!)

  10. Hey Lisa, thanks for the awesome posts. I hope you stick around for a while.

    Saludos desde Mexico.

  11. Fodor: 1/2*

    Xibalba is rife with tests for the casual tourist, trials and traps for anyone who came into the city. Even the Road to Xibalba is filled with obstacles: first a river filled with scorpions, a river filled with blood, and then a river filled with pus. The rest of the city is thoroughly modern, which means it can be just as chaotic as its big sister, but it offers many of the same urban diversions, in particular good restaurants and nightlife.

  12. Well, they’ve discovered something and it looks real enough, so whatever it is , it isn’t “mythical”. If it proves to be Xibalba then it is surely legendary.

  13. how did the anchient people get in there, not having access to all that scuba gear?

  14. Well there were 23 comments when I looked at this a few minutes ago. Maybe I am meant to explore this underworld in 315 years… during the dog days of course. I’ll start collecting the gear.

  15. Just great…why don’t they just go in there and drag Cthulu out…save us all the wait?

    Stupid archeologists…full of Indiana Jones Syndrome…going to kill us all…mumble mumble mumble…

  16. I’m not looking forward to 2012. It’s not enough that we haven’t offered the gods any sacrifices in almost 500 years. Now we’ve broken into one of their hangouts. This can’t end well.

  17. “Stupid archeologists…full of Indiana Jones Syndrome…going to kill us all…mumble mumble mumble…”

    It’s worth revisiting this old chestnut from the Onion:
    Archaeologist Tired of Unearthing Unspeakable Ancient Evils”

    I did a paper on the trials of the Mayan Hero Twins, and I was delighted by Cold House, Bat House, Razor House and so on. Fun neighborhood! With such a great mythos, I don’t understand why there haven’t been any good Mayan horror movies (The Ruins does not/will not count).

  18. …and you thought it was only a myth. That’s the tagline for my novel MAYAN MOON, which I began researching back in the 80’s. What a facinating culture, with all kinds of creepy secrets hidden out there in the jungle. Check it out at http://www.jmskypblshng.cm

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