Scholar finds Mayans' buried highway through hell





Legend says the afterlife for ancient Mayas was a terrifying obstacle course in which the dead had to traverse rivers of blood, and chambers full of sharp knives, bats and jaguars.

Now a Mexican archaeologist using long-forgotten testimony from the Spanish Inquisition says a series of caves he has explored may be the place where the Maya actually tried to depict this highway through hell.

The network of underground chambers, roads and temples beneath farmland and jungle on the Yucatan peninsula suggests the Maya fashioned them to mimic the journey to the underworld, or Xibalba, described in ancient mythological texts such as the Popol Vuh.

"It was the place of fear, the place of cold, the place of danger, of the abyss," said University of Yucatan archaeologist Guillermo de Anda.


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