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Video: Praying to the Maya Gods for Safe Passage Through an Underwater Cave

Before exploring the sacred, water-filled cenote, Sac Uayum, it was necessary to ask permission of not just local residents but the Maya gods and the cenote itself. The ceremony known as a Jeets’ Lu’um (calming of the earth) involved a series of prayers accompanied by offerings of candles and various ritual foods. Now video of the ritual is available.

Video: Cenote Sac Uayum’s Inner Sanctum

In the summer of 2013, The Mayapán Taboo Cenote Project, with support from The Waitt Foundation for Exploration and The National Geographic Society began an exploration of the still sacred cenote (sinkhole) Sac Uayum at the ancient Maya city of Mayapán. The work documented more than a dozen burials submerged below its water. Now for the first time, you can swim along with research diver Rait Kütt as he examines remains found in the 2nd chamber of what turned out to be an unexpected submerged cave system.

An Explosion of Color in Yucatan, Mexico

One of my favorite shots from this season’s fieldwork: a Yucatec Maya woman sells flowers in the local market in Tekax, Yucatan, Mexico.

Returning Maya Ancestors to Their Place of Origin

The team has located 15 human crania and a large number of other bones, attesting to the use of the site as a burial location.

7 Demonic Creatures: Thorny Devil, Satanic Gecko, More

From “demon” ants to satanic geckos—see some of nature’s most devilish-looking creatures.

August 11, 2013: Holding our Breath in Underwater Caves, Biking Across Kyrgyzstan Mountains, and More

Join us this week, as we explore the labyrinth of underwater caves deep under Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula for clues of its Mayan past, cycle solo through Central Asian mountain passes to climb remote peaks, and debunk American historical myths from the Wild West to the Surfin’ Safari.

New “Demon” Ants Named for Maya Underlords

The devil’s in the details when it comes to fearsome new ant species described recently in Central America.

In the Jaws of the Earth: Getting to the Bottom of Ancient Mayapán, Mexico

Experience what its like to descend into an ancient and lightless cenote, home to undocumented burials sites and artifacts.

Where Feathered Serpents Wait

The Mayapan Taboo Cenote Project team and a local shaman conduct a ceremony to ask the gods of sky, earth and the winds for permission to enter and explore Cenote Sac Uayum at the ancient Maya city of Mayapan, Mexico.

Is Every Civilization Destined to Collapse?

What does it mean for a civilization to collapse? Are we destined to follow suit? Archaeologists working around the world conclude a week-long conference with their perspectives.

Why Did Ancient Civilizations Build Such Huge Monuments?

Why did ancient civilizations begin with the building of such huge monuments? Archaeologists working around the world share their reflections.

What Is “Civilization”?

After days of presentations on five of the world’s great ancient civilizations, archaeologists from sites all around the world debate and discuss the meaning of civilization and what we can learn today from the lessons of the past.

Whale Attack Video, Space Debris Issue, More…Today’s Top 10 Headlines

On our radar today: Video footage shows killer whales attacking sperm whales, the space debris issue is becoming more and more dire, and…

Dig Deeper: Origins of the Maya

The ancient Maya are well known for their overgrown temple ruins and striking carved and painted art. Speakers at the Dialogue of Civilizations unveil the origins of this captivating culture.

Hangout in an Ancient Maya Cave

Join us live, Friday, February 8th at 1pm EST as NG Explorer Guillermo de Anda leads us from the jungle into a vast cavern to reveal remnants of ancient Maya civilization.