Saturday, August 16, 2008

Xibalba Update: INAH Article

INAH, Mexico's National Institute for Anthropology and History, has released an English-language short release on the cave complex discussed in my previous post. It's a lot more interesting than I thought, with not just one building within the caves, but several.

Particularly interesting is the presence of a sacbe. These white limestone raised roads radiate out between and within Maya settlements, and are particularly well-documented in western Yucatan. Roads are an important aspect of Maya thought, similar to the idea of one's path or journey having a lot more significance than literally where one will travel. The equivalent in Yukatek to "How's it going?" is "How's your road?," which come to think of it is a fairly similar sentiment. When one gets married, it is said "their road came to an end." While this is humorously close to the English colloquialism "End of the road, pal," it would be better understood as meaning that the married people began a new road together as a pair.

There has long been debate on whether the roads were primarily for ritual pilgrimages and processions, for transportation of goods and people, to demonstrate political allegiance, or some combination. The discovery of one inside a heavily sacralized cave complex will likely give some heft to arguments for ritual.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Subterranean Maya Temple Complex Suggested as Road to Xibalba

The image of the building constructed within the cavern is impressive. The article doesn't mention where specifically this is, other than in Mexico and the Yucatan peninsula. Apparently it dates to the Classic.