Saturday, August 23, 2008

Portal to Mayan Underworld Found (Xibalba)

National Geographic has just put up an article on a Yucatan site which appears to match the myth of the Mesoamerican underworld.
The 14-cave site is filled with pyramids and temples. Researchers discovered a nearly 300-foot (90-meter) concrete road that ends at a column standing in front of a body of water.....Archaeologists excavating the temples and pyramids in the village of Tahtzibichen, in Mérida, the capital of Yucatán state, said the oldest item they found was a 1,900-year-old vessel....
"There are stones, huge columns, and sculptures of priests in the caves," said de Anda, whose team has been working on the Yucatán Peninsula for six months.
"There are also human remains and ceramics."
William Saturno, a Maya expert at Boston University, believes the maze of temples was built after the story....Saturno said the discovery of the temples underwater indicates the significant effort the Maya put into creating these portals.
In addition to plunging deep into the forest to reach the cave openings, Maya builders would have had to hold their breath and dive underwater to build some of the shrines and pyramids.

This brings to mind something I've been musing on for a long time. Across the world, across many cultures, there are stories of legendary lands and amazing otherwordly cities. Some of their names? Shamballa/Shambhala, Cibola, Xibalba and Shangri-La.
From Wikipedia (because I'm lazy), edited by me:
  • In Tibetan Buddhist tradition, Shambhala is a mythical kingdom hidden somewhere beyond the snowpeaks of the Himalayas.
  • Quivira and Cíbola are two of the fantastic Seven Cities of Gold existing only in a myth that originated around the year 1150 when the Moors conquered Mérida, Spain. Seven bishops who fled the city supposedly, in a far away land—a place unknown to the people of that time—the seven bishops had founded the cities of Cíbola and Quivira, cities filled with gold and riches. The Spanish looked for these cities in Mexico and the Southwest of the US.
  • Xibalba is described in the Popol Vuh as a court below the surface of the Earth, associated with death.
  • Shangri-La has become synonymous with any earthly paradise but particularly a mythical Himalayan utopia—a permanently happy land, isolated from the outside world. And apparently it is based on Shamballa, so in that respect, the connection I sense between all these places is true.
Now, I don't want to go all Fingerprints of the Gods on you, but isn't that kind of interesting? That the Spanish already were seeking a place called Cibola and found a people with an underworld called Xibalba (x is pronounced sh)?
(Image source, article screenshot)
12 2 Mol 9 Cauac assimilation

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