Handprints in a Maya cave – level 3

07-05-2021 07:00

Mysterious findings inside an underground cave in Mexico shed some light on ancient Maya rituals.

Dozens of black and red handprints cover the walls of the cave, and they are believed to be associated with a coming-of-age ritual of the ancient Maya. The handprints are mostly made by children, and they date back more than 1,200 years when Maya´s advanced culture was at its zenith.

According to archaeologists, the colors have a meaning. The black color symbolized death; however, it didn´t mean that the children were going to be killed but rather death from a ritual perspective. The color red referred to war or life when children went out and they came in contact with the rest of society in a safe way.

The cave is located near the northern tip of the Yucatan peninsula that houses the popular archaeological tourist site, Chichen Itza. Several million Maya still live in communities across southeastern Mexican states as well as Guatemala and Belize.

Difficult words: shed some light (to give information), coming of age (the age or occasion when a person formally becomes an adult), zenith (the time at which something is most powerful or successful), perspective (a point of view).

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