Arizona Archaeological Society



Desert Foothills Chapter - Monthly Meeting

  • 10 Feb 2016
  • 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM
  • Foothills Community Foundation (Holland Community Center) 34250 North 60th Street, Building B, Scottsdale AZ 85266 (just south of Carefree Highway)

NOTE: Revised location due to Ash Wednesday at normal church community room location!

Tales from the Dark Side: Cave Archaeology in Western Belize and its Implications for the Decline of Maya Civilization by Dr. Jaime Awe. 

In Maya cosmology, few locations were (and are) considered more sacred or ritually charged than caves.  Representing portals to the netherworld and places of origin, these dark subterranean sites also served as the abode for important, powerful, and often capricious deities.  The Maya further believed that the spirits of deceased ancestors descended to the watery underworld where they could eventually be reborn.  Caves were thus places of death and creation because of their sacredness both the ancient Maya and their descendants visited and visit these sites to conduct rituals.  Until recently, intensive scientific investigations of cave sites are rare.  In an effort to address the latter bias, the Western Belize Regional Cave Project embarked on a multi-year research program designed to ascertain the nature of Maya cave utilization.  By combining ethnographic and ethnohistoric information with data from archaeological investigations, this presentation provides evidence which suggests that the Maya visited caves in an effort to communicate with particular gods or ancestral spirits and the primary focus of their ritual activities were directed toward sustenance and agricultural fertility, and that intensified cave ritual in the ninth century A.D. was intrinsically related to factors that led to the decline of Maya civilization.

Reception and socialization at 7:00 pm, program begins approximately 7:30 pm.

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