Tag Archives: Mayan

Tikal Reborn

Tikal, Guatemala

Tikal's Grand Plaza, Guatemala


Sitting on the vastness of Tikal’s Mayan ruins it is common for visitors to imagine the bustling city that once thrived here. How it must have looked in its prime, with the jungle pushed far back to make way for endless crops and marvelous limestone structures that towered over the landscape. How proud its residents must have been to live in this shining capital of a dominant power.

And yet my thoughts were drawn in a completely different direction; Read More…

When Mayan Gods are Smiling

Xunantunich, Cayo, Belize

We awoke to such dark skies and rain that we considered abandoning our planned trek to the Mayan temple of Xunantunich (Shoo-nahn-too-neech) in the Cayo District of Belize. After procuring some plastic rain ponchos we decided to brave the weather and undertake the bus trip and mile long walk needed to reach the ruins.

The Mayan Gods smiled on our fortitude.

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ATM: Hell’s Tale of an Empire’s Fall

Actun Tunichil Muknal Cave, Belize

After an hour long drive and a forty minute hike we arrived at a place that might have been Eden. The entrance to Belize’s Actun Tunichil Muknal cave is submerged in a pool of water made ice blue by dissolved minerals. The morning sun flickered through the trees, illuminating the vibrant greens of the jungle trees and moss covered rocks. It was peaceful, lovely and alive.

Appearances are deceiving, though. This wasn’t the entrance to paradise. It was the opening to Xibalba (”shi-ball-bah”), the underworld of the ancient Mayan people. The story told here is not one of creation, but of sadness, desperation, and decline.

We went to Actun Tunichil Muknal to simply explore another cave system, the fifth of our recent travels. What we found instead was something unlike anything we’ve ever seen.

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Mayan Mystery Solved

Cahal Pech, Mayan Site, San Ignacio Belize

We’ve accomplished something scores of archeologists, with a lifetime of study, have failed to do. With a single visit to a single Mayan site, we’ve solved the enduring mystery of what caused the collapse of a once great civilization.

Over some 3,000 years of development, the Mayan people progressed into a populous and intellectually advanced society. At their peak, around 800 A.D., they had acquired an advanced understanding of mathematics, astronomy, agriculture and architecture. They built elaborate city states with magnificent palaces and soaring temples that supported a population of millions.

And then, sometime around the 8th century, this great society went into decline. Its city states were eventually abandoned; its population dispersed. The reasons for the collapse are still unexplained. That is until know.

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