Barton Creek Cave

Wednesday, 27 March 2013
The Mayans were known to believe in the Upper World (like the Christian heaven) and the Under World (like the Christian hell). When they discovered underground caves that usually started or ended with a stream of some sort, they believed they had found an entrance to commune with the Under World gods. One such space is Barton Creek in the Mountain Pine Ridge area (Cayo District).

Why does the cave have such a Western name? It was first discovered by a Mennonite man when he purchased the land in the 1970s. Because the Mennonite religion doesn't allow followers to enter caves,  he later sold the land to a Canadian named Mike. Mike alerted scientists to the location and the cave is now a protected place. While scientists were studying the location, they found numerous Mayan artifacts.

We had the opportunity to go through the cave in a boat with just the two of us and a guide. It was very quiet moving through the water. James held the light and took photos at the same time giving me a chance to capture a few great shots. I was especially interested in the formations that came from the ceiling via the dripping of water through the mountain onto limestone. 

In this particular cave, there is evidence of the Mayans sacrificing people. Scientists found 28 sets of remains and an infant skull is visible from the water (I tried to capture a picture - see below. The skull is facing eye sockets to the ceiling with the jaw and upper teeth exposed). Keep in mind the people who gave their lives did so voluntary because the Mayan believed in reincarnation.

The cave is cool because it also has proof of blood sacrifice. The low temperatures inside the cave and level of humidity have preserved bones and even clay pots over thousands of years. The clay pots were filled with human and animal blood and left for the gods. Several of the pots are still there. I was able to get a picture of one example. If you look at where the light is pointed just above the jagged edge of the rocks, you can see the pot.

James and I really loved this tour because it was cool inside the cave (bonus) but it was also quiet which allowed us to imagine the Mayans drifting through their "Under World" centuries ago. We also studied insect bats found in one of the crevices deep inside the cave. They clung together like bananas on a tree and somehow moved fluidly to flee the assault of our light. 

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