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Maya Sacrificial Victims Had been Painted Blue and Tossed right into a Sinkhole


In Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula lies a web site which was as soon as central to Maya sacrificial rituals—the sacred cenote of Chichen Itza. This pure sinkhole harbors secrets and techniques of human sacrifice and non secular fervor that proceed to intrigue students to this present day. It additionally supplied the important thing to understanding using what has been described as one of many nice technological and creative achievements of Mesoamerica: Maya blue.

Unraveling the Mystique of Maya Blue

Maya blue is a vibrant turquoise colour, harking back to the waters of the Caribbean. It has been discovered on a wide range of Maya artifacts, together with pottery, murals and sculptures, relationship again to between 300 and 1500 AD. A man-made pigment created by fusing indigo and palygorskite—a kind of clay—over low warmth which renders it remarkably resilient to the passage of time.

First crafted by the Maya civilization, Maya blue has puzzled scientists since its preliminary discovery within the Thirties. Its synthesis has been hailed as an alchemical marvel, with researchers deciphering its elements within the Nineteen Sixties.

Blue was the sacred hue of sacrifice among the many historic Maya, symbolizing the rain god Chaac. Human choices, adorned in blue, had been made to appease Chaac throughout droughts, aiming to summon rainfall. Sixteenth-century texts even describe sacrificial scenes at Chichén Itzá the place victims had been painted blue earlier than their ritual demise.

An unassuming artifact dredged from the bottom of Chichen Itza’s Sacred Cenote revealed clues as to the connection between sacrificial rituals and Maya blue. (Lukas / Adobe Stock)

An unassuming artifact dredged from the underside of Chichen Itza’s Sacred Cenote revealed clues as to the connection between sacrificial rituals and Maya blue. (Lukas / Adobe Inventory)

Echoes of Sacrifice: Unveiling the Secrets and techniques of Maya Blue at Chichen Itza

Chichen Itza’s Sacred Cenote is a 60-meter-diameter (197 ft) sinkhole which was considered as a gateway to the underworld and used for conducting sacrifices throughout instances of drought within the Maya period. Related to town’s iconic stepped pyramid by way of a 300-meter (980 ft) raised walkway, its grizly goal was confirmed when Edward Herbert Thomson dredged the sinkhole from 1904.

Thomson uncovered an array of artifacts, together with many made from gold, jade, wooden, textiles and pottery, in addition to dozens of human skeletons. The position of Maya blue in these sacrificial rituals started to emerge when Thompson famous a five-meter (16 ft) layer of blue sediment lining the cenote’s depths, although he didn’t perceive the importance on the time.

A number of a long time later, an unassuming ceramic bowl saved in a museum assortment and initially discovered on the backside of the cenote was key in revealing the place, how and when Maya blue was produced. On recognizing that the bowl contained copal incense, the curiosity of anthropologist Dean Arnold was piqued, and his outcomes printed in Antiquity in 2008.

A Maya tripod bowl from Chichen Itza's Sacred Cenote containing copal helped uncover the secrets behind Maya blue's production. (John Weinstein / The Field Museum)

A Maya tripod bowl from Chichen Itza’s Sacred Cenote containing copal helped uncover the secrets and techniques behind Maya blue’s manufacturing. (John Weinstein / The Discipline Museum)

Arnold’s hunch proved that the incense contained each palygroskite and indigo, which might have been heated by the burning of incense to make Maya blue. This meant that Maya blue was produced in ceramic bowls throughout the efficiency of rituals which befell by the facet of the sinkhole.

Human sacrificial victims and treasured objects had been painted with Maya blue—a symbolic gesture of their submission to the divine. These sacrifices, adorned with sacred hues, had been then forged into the depths of the cenote to appease Chaac’s divine will.

High picture: Consultant picture of palms lined with Maya blue pigment. Supply: Generated with Adobe Firefly

By Cecilia Bogaard



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