WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:
- A team of archaeologists discovers relics from the Mayan civilization, some of which suggest that the Mayans offered sacrifices into supposed gateways to the sacred underworld.
- One of the discovered relics was an ancient frieze that featured carved images of five generations of kings.
- The discoveries were showcased on the National Geographic Channel’s new show called Lost Treasures of the Maya, which started airing on May 5, Sunday.
A team of explorers has discovered ancient relics from the Mayan civilization of South America – including a colossal ancient frieze with carved images of five generations of kings, a rare pot, and an incense burner made from a human skull.
Lost Treasures of the Maya, a new show which started on Sunday on the National Geographic Channel, showcased the discoveries.
Archaeologist Francisco Estrada Belli reveals the frieze on the first episode. It was previously found inside a burial pyramid at the site of the ancient city of Holmul in today’s Guatemala. Dating back to 2,000 B.C., the frieze features carved images of five kings, each wearing the Sun God headdress linked to the Mayan culture.
Mr. Belli has since been searching for the burial sites of these kings, who are thought to be the ancient city’s founding fathers. He has discovered two so far in the past years.
He explains that the relic signifies the Mayan belief that kings are reborn as sun gods after they die. Pointing at one of the kings, he says, “He’s rising from the sacred mountain wearing the bird headdress of the sun god. The most astonishing piece of information came from this band at the bottom, which has an entire king list for the site, up until the year 600.”
Other discoveries inside the pyramid included a stingray spine and an obsidian blade, which were possibly used in bloodletting for human sacrifice.
His “biggest find” was a rare pot – large, richly decorated, and still intact. A similar one was only ever found in a royal tomb before, and almost a century ago. The inscriptions show it was used for ceremonial drinking chocolate.
The show also features fellow archaeologist Guillermo De Anda exploring recently discovered submerged caves near the city of Chichen Itza in Mexico.
Mr. De Anda surmised that the caves would lead him to a sacred cenote, or sinkhole, beneath Chichen Itza’s great pyramid, El Castillo.
Since Mayans considered cenotes as sacred places, Mr. De Anda believes that the city was built at this site because of the cenote beneath the pyramid.
Mr. De Anda dove into the caves and discovered ancient ceramics, human remains, and a skull used as an incense burner.
The discoveries suggest that the Mayans offered sacrifices into these cenotes, believing them to be gateways to the sacred underworld.
Lost Treasures of the Maya airs every Sunday on the National Geographic Channel.