More than 500 sacrificial and ritualistic relics have been discovered by divers in Lake Petén Itzá, Guatemala. The archaeology team of PhD divers from Poland were 160 meters underwater when they located several monuments that were involved in ritualistic ceremonies that occurred in the ancient Mayan capital of Nojpeten. In fact, the lake bed was totally littered with the ceremonial relics according to archaeologists from Jagiellonian University in Kraków, Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń, and Warsaw University.
Nojpeten was the final Mayan city that fell to Spanish invaders in the 17th century and the area is known today as Flores Island. The PhD students were in Guatemala initially searching for remains of the “great battle” that occurred between the last Mayan city and several Spanish ships that surrounded the island in 1697. They instead discovered pieces of skull-shaped incense burners, bowls used in rituals, sacrificial glass blades, and shells of musical instruments from the Caribbean which date back from 150 BC – 250 AD to 600 – 800 AD.
Magdalena Krzemień, who is the lead archaeologist and is from Jagiellonian University in Kraków, told the Polish Press Agency, “In addition to the ancient Mayan capital, we have discovered more than half a thousand relics, including objects sunk during religious rituals.”
They found three bowls that were stacked on top of each other and inside of them were pieces of burned wood and obsidian which is a glass-like volcanic rock. They also discovered an obsidian blade that was nearly 20 cm in length. Krzemień stated that “Its presence must be clearly associated with ritual and sacrifice.”
It is believed that the Mayans would put together the monuments before dropping them into the lake, but how the two thousand-year-old relics remained intact is still a mystery. Mateusz Popek, who is an underwater archaeologist from the Institute of Archaeology, UMK, pondered that very question, “The riddle is how the Mayans sacrificed it so that the dishes did not fall apart when they hit the lake bed. We suppose that they were lowered to the bottom in some kind of net.”
Popek said that lakes were very important for holy worship of the Mayan people and that they believed that water was a way for the dead to travel to the underworld. It is also said that they believed that water portals were connected to Chaak who was the God of Rain and who represented fertility. That is why in ancient times, so many sacrificial gifts were placed into the water.
Since all of their findings were discovered on the surface of the lake bed, the archaeologists have much more work that needs to be done which was confirmed when Krzemień stated, “We plan to continue our research.”