Around the world water plays an important part in our daily lives. An example of where water was incorporated into the culture of an ancient society is that of water temples. One civilization who previously built water temples were that of the Maya. Recently an ancient water temple from the Maya civilization was discovered in Belize in Central America (Vergano)#_ENREF_2″ t “Vergano, 2015 #749. Research on the Maya people has shown that water was an important part of their lives, both from a survival perspective, and from its incorporation into their rituals. The Maya developed many different ways to manage and conserve water. But during periods of drought the Maya people often turned to rituals such as sacrifices as a way to appease the gods and help to end the drought (Scarborough)#_ENREF_1” t “Scarborough, 1998 #748.
Recently a previously hidden Maya water temple was discovered in Belize. The temple was discovered at the Cara Blanca site in Belize. The temple consists of a small plaza which has remains of a lodge and two other structures. These structures are beside a pool of water where it is thought that the Maya people made sacrifices to either underworld demons or the Maya water god.
In particular they were likely providing offerings to the May rain god, Chaak (Vergano).
Around the collapse of the Maya empire around 800 AD there was a great drought, as such water temples were erected to allow people to sacrifice and pray for the ending of the drought. As the drought continued more and more people made the trek to the temple to provide sacrifices to the gods (Vergano). While today we turn to science for explanations on drought, ancient civilizations turned to the gods to help explain why they were occurring. Overall the discovery of this temple provides insight into how water was important not only to survival, but also important from a spiritual perspective.
- Scarborough, Vernon L. “Ecology and Ritual: Water Management and the Maya.” Latin American Antiquity, vol. 9, no. 2, 1998, pp. 135-159.
- Vergano, Dan. “At Newly Discovered Water Temple, Maya Offered Sacrifices to End Drought.” National Geographic, January 29 2015. http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2015/01/150127-maya-water-temple-drought-archaeology-science/http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2015/01/150127-maya-water-temple-drought-archaeology-science/.