More than 100 black and red handprints have been discovered on the walls of a cave in Mexico, possibly during an ancient Mayan ritual.
Archaeologists said that most of the 137 prints were made by children about 1,200 years ago, and that this was part of a tradition when children entered puberty.
The cave, which is located near the northern tip of the Yucatan Peninsula, is surrounded by large pyramidal ruins and is located about 30 meters below a Ceiba tree, which is considered sacred in Mayan beliefs.
Archaeologist Sergio Grosjean, who is currently working on the site, said, “They printed their hands on the walls in black … which symbolized death, but that didn’t mean they would be killed, but death through a ritual perspective . ‘
“After that these children marked their hands in red, which was an indication of war or life.”
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More than 100 black and red handprints discovered on the walls of a cave in Mexico were created during an ancient Mayan ritual. Archaeologists say most of the 137 prints were made by children around 1,200 years ago, and believe this was part of a ritual when children entered puberty
The Mayan rite of passage was for both boys and girls.
Tribe girls were given a shell to wear around their waist, indicating that they were of legal age to have children.
However, boys made their first hunt and performed a bloodshed ritual to confirm that they could be considered men. After completing the ritual, they were given a white pearl to wear in their hair and moved to an area in the community known as the “home of unmarried men” until they were married.
Experts say the black prints represent death and the red ones symbolize life or war, as the young were now old enough to hunt and go to battle
The cave, which is located near the northern tip of the Yucatan Peninsula, is surrounded by large pyramidal ruins and is located about 30 meters below a Ceiba tree, which is considered sacred in Mayan culture
Handprints in a cave had not previously been discovered by experts. Along with the handprints, archaeologists found a carved face and six painted reliefs that date between 800 and 1000 AD. In the year 1000 AD, a severe drought rocked the region and contributed to the fact that the Mayans suddenly gave up the big cities.
While the first Mayan settlements stretch back nearly 4,000 years, large groups existed when Spanish conquerors arrived in the early 16th century.
In June 2020, archaeologists discovered a 3,000 year old Mayan temple that is the oldest and largest known monument of ancient civilization. The Tabasco, Mexico site was discovered in 2017 by an international team of archaeologists led by the University of Arizona.
Handprints in a cave had not been discovered before, but Grosjean argues that since most of them are from children, the prints must have been made during a ritual of growing up
While the first Maya settlements stretch back nearly 4,000 years, large communities still existed when Spanish conquerors arrived in the early 16th century. And experts are still uncovering the hidden wonders. In June 2020, archaeologists discovered a 3,000 year old Mayan temple that is the oldest and largest monument of ancient civilization
The site, called Aquada Fénix, is 4,600 feet long and up to 50 feet high, making it larger than the Mayan pyramids and palaces of later periods.
It was made between 800 BC. BC and 1000 BC Built according to the team behind the discovery.
One of the most notable revelations of the find was the complete lack of stone sculptures related to rulers and elites such as colossal heads and thrones that are often seen in other Mayan temples.
This suggests that the early Mayans were more egalitarian than later generations.