New Evidence of Mayan Cruelty Surfaces

Thomas Howell, Op-Ed Editor

The Mayan civilization existed from about 1800 BCE to 900 CE and dominated the Mesoamerican region surrounding present-day Guatemala and Belize. Apart from designing calendars that failed to predict the end of the world, the Mayans engaged in intense religious rituals. For years, archaeologists and historians believed the Mayans to be peaceful priests and scribes; however, closer examinations of their temples revealed a darker side of Mayan culture. The religious rituals of the Mayans hinged largely on torture and human sacrifice, with new evidence suggesting that the Mayans built structures similar to stadiums where hundreds of spectators could watch the public executions of prisoners and other captives.

In the Midnight Terror Cave in Belize, researchers discovered the remains of children aged six to fourteen that the Mayans sacrificed to the gods among the bones of other victims. Close autopsies on the remains revealed that the children were residents of a civilization far away, indicating that they were trafficked over several miles to the site of the sacrifice. Researchers are still unsure about the motivations behind the sacrifice of these children and the method by which they were acquired. Some speculate that the children were kidnapped while others believe they were sold and still others argue that they simply migrated to the caves on their own and died of natural causes. The Midnight Terror Cave housed more human bones than any other Mayan cave that had been discovered previously and altered the way historians view Mayan human sacrifice. As more proof of Mayan cruelty materializes, the true essence of Mayan culture becomes clearer and our perception of the nature of the Mayan people drifts further away from the image of peaceful priests and scribes.