75.2 F
Thursday, January 20, 2022

Handprints found in Yucatán cave are the vestige of a Maya ceremony 1,200 years ago

Latest headlines

New Frontier Airlines route to connect Cancún with Houston

Citing an increase in demand, Frontier Airlines has announced a new flight between Houston and Cancún.

Yucatán’s muralism boom —  an explosion of color, tradition and meaning

Yucatán’s history of muralism famously dates all the way back to the elaborate frescoes of the ancient Maya.

Students at Mérida’s private Catholic Universities caught trading thousands of explicit photos of their classmates

Numerous students at Mérida’s Anáuac Mayab University are reportedly active in a “secret” chat group to trade intimate photos of classmates, as well as engage in cyberbullying. 

New benches at ancient archaeological site anger Izamal residents

Modern slab benches detract from an ancient ruin at Izamal, neighbors say. Photo: Courtesy Modern-looking benches installed at...
Carlos Rosado van der Gracht
Born in Mérida, Carlos Rosado van der Gracht is a Mexican/Canadian blogger, photographer and adventure expedition leader. He holds degrees in multimedia, philosophy and translation from universities in Mexico, Canada and Norway. Sign up for the Yucatán Roundup, a free newsletter, which delivers the week's top headlines every Monday.
The handprints were found inside a large vaulted area deep within the cave. Photo: Courtesy

A team of speleologists and archaeologists have discovered a cave in Yucatán with 137 children’s painted handprints.

Archaeologists believe the handprints to be about 1,200 years old and part of a Maya coming-of-age ceremony.

The site is approximately one hour south of Mérida in an area where cenotes and cave formations are known to be particularly plentiful.

“This seems to be part of a ritual made to mark the beginning of puberty. They would place one hand in black paint, which symbolizes death, and then place the other in red paint, which symbolizes life. The children would then leave their mark on the cave and re-emerge to the surface reborn,” said researcher Sergio Grosjean

Inside the cave, archaeologists also found the carved image of a face and six paintings that make reference to the Mayan underworld, or Xibalbá.

“These finds are very important because they give us a glimpse into the ritual life of the Maya. We may speculate about their precise meaning, but all signs suggest that their placement was deliberate and meaningful,” said Marco Santos, director of the Chichén Itzá site.

Earlier: The U.S. returns ancient artifacts illegally smuggled out of Mexico

Because of safety concerns and the difficulties associated with preserving archaeological remains on the inside of caves, few are ever open to the public. 

A notable exception is the archaeological site of Lol-tun, in the Puuc region in a cave system of the same name. The site features wall paintings, several stelae, sculptures bearing Olmec features and handprints similar to the ones recently discovered.

Interestingly, some of the handprints found in Lol-tun display six fingers on each hand, perhaps a mutation resulting from inbreeding among a royal line.

- Advertisement -

Subscribe Now!

More articles

What my rescue dogs taught me

I thought I knew a lot about dogs until I took in two rescues. I was wrong....

Bus full of construction workers catches fire in Mérida’s north

A bus went up in flames just before 8 this morning in Mérida’s Francisco de Montejo neighborhood.

Mérida’s new surveillance center now has eyes on over 6,700 cameras

Yucatán's government has opened a new remote surveillance center to oversee the state's thousands of active security cameras. 

600 acres expropriated in Quintana Roo for new Mayan Train route

Mexico has seized 198 lots of land in Quintana Roo along phase 5 of the Mayan Train's path.

Omicron strain now dominant in Yucatán

The Omicron variant of COVID-19 now appears to be the most common form of the virus in Yucatán.

Exploring Tazumal and Casa Blanca in Western El Salvador

Though part of the Mayan world, archaeological sites in El Salvador have largely remained unvisited by all but the most avid adventurers. But this tiny country boasts several interesting sites full of unique features and blends of cultural traditions. 

Mérida slated to build nearly 100 new highrise towers

Housing and business developments in Mérida have historically been fairly “close to the ground,” but that seems to be changing.

Yucatán’s COVID hospitalizations begin to creep up

Over 3,000 new coronavirus infections were reported this week in Yucatán. On Sunday alone, 652 new cases were detected, and that's likely...

‘Angels’ spreads its wings to the Yucatán Country Club gallery

The "Angels" exhibit has expanded into the exclusive Yucatán Country Club gallery, on view by appointment. Photo: Courtesy

Yucatán wakes up to a cold and windy ‘Mukul’

Mark Callum, a Mérida resident originally from England, helped this Chevy's owner move a huge branch behind the Paseo de Montejo...