reply to post by mapsurfer_
The "entrance to the underworld" is a very important concept in mayan religion. There are many "entrances to the underworld" throughout the mayan
It is such an important concept that the idea was integrated into many facets of mayan life.
Whole city/temple complexes were designed around the idea of an entrance to the underworld.
And it not as though somebody just found an ancient temple and decided that it is the entrance to the underworld, these have names and are know
through the translation of mayan texts.
At one of the northern cities, the king, at its height of power, made a pilgrimage to a important southern maya temple complex, on a river in
This must have been a very difficult journey, hundreds of miles through some of the densest jungle in the world, then over high mountains.
This temple is buillt on a river that "passes through the under world".
High in the mountains this river flows from a crack in the rock at the base of a very distinctive mountain.
It sits all alone and has a very conical shape to it, the river that flows out of the base is a big river, that just appears full size at the botom
of the mountain.
As the river makes its way down to the lowlands it dissapears into a cave, this is one of the other "entrances to the underworld". again at the
base of a mountain. From here it winds its way for several kilometers through the cave system before again emerging out of the base of the mountains.
Another several kilometers down the river the maya built a huge temple city dedicated to the "underworld". It had canals flowing through it with
many temple buildings and was a place where maya from all over to make offerings, farmer and king alike.
Now when the northern king returns to his city state, the trek was so arduous, he set out to duplicate the concept of the "river of life flowing
from the underworld" in the construction of a massive temple complex.
They built underground cannals to bring water in from springs,then the water went under a new kind of structure that represented the mountain from
which the river of life flowed.
This new kind of structure, was the first mayan pyramid, and the main canal flowed underneath it before entering the city, there were undergroung
chambers where the priests could make their offerings to the gods of the underworld.
In fact the idea of a cave representing the underwolrd is a very strong idea in mayan religion. So strong that when the spanish showed up and tried
to christianize the maya and forbid them from their former practices, they spent hundreds of years carving out man made caves in secret, so that they
could practice their true religion incognito.
They also hid copies of the main mayan religious books in the alter of a small local church, preserving them from destruction at the hands of the
fanatical monks who came along with the spanish. So much was lost when nthe spanish burned the mayan and aztec libraries.
I believe these books were found again in the 1800's but not translated till recently.
The system of secret caves is still in use today, and the local will treck to the hillside out of town and make thier way into the network of tunnels
and pray and make offerings .
Maya civilization may have died out but the maya culture lived on in the remote areas of central americas. They just abandonded their cities and went
back to a simpler lifestyle that still persists today.