Fair Warning

Mayans preformed human sacrifice in caves and the victim's bones and skulls remain.

This page contains images of a human skulls and human bones. If this bothers you, we do have a page on Actun Tunichil Muknal with no bone photos you may prefer.

The Human Remains

The trip in was quite a feat. First we waded into a stream, then swam into the mouth of a cave and pulled ourselves up on to a rock shelf above the water. We then went further into the cave by wading and dog paddling along the corridor until we came to a rock formation that we climbed up and found ourselves on a landing that was an enormous set of cave rooms with high overhead ceilings and wonderful formations. But for some, the main attraction was not the cave, but the insight into the history and culture of the Mayans. Caves, being sacred, were places where sacrificed humans were left to be reclaimed by the earth. Calcite forms over the artifacts over time similar to stalactites and stalagmites forming. This holds the artifacts in place by burying them, creating a living museum.

The site was used by Mayans for hundreds of years. In this cave, the remains of 14 humans were found.

skull in lightbeam skull teeth

When we sigend up for this day trip we did not know mcuh about the trip other than we were going in a cave and that it was like nothing we had never done before. I feltt hat we had seen excellent examples of pottery at Che Chem Ha and had paddled into another cave at Barton Creek and even saw a Human skull that had been placed for visitor's to view. How could this be different? We had our answer. This place had such and open and extensive exhibit of pottery and sacrifice and really could not compare to the other places we visited. It was very different. We still highly reccomend Che Chem Ha Cave and Barton Creek Cave absolutely without question. All three places had their own features that made the visit exciting, unique, and memorable.

Skull and bones part way though up along the cave wall Skull facing skyward in upper right, bones on the left and at the bottom right. rock used to kill

We were told that a tool used to perform the execution was found near each victim. It is a long shaped rock. We were also told that the execution was quick and death instantaneous. Our guide showed us one of the tools once we got to the end of the cave. It looked pretty new and shiny rather than covered up with calcite. Sometimes what we were told left questions in our mind, but there was not going to be a quiz at the end of the trip where a passing grade would earn us a ride home so we just took things in pace.

skull and bones bones

The one human whose skeleton is still intact is up on a higher shelf. Because of the massive amounts of tour groups, we had to wait quite a while to climb the ladder to see her. The area where she lies includes her and the tool used for her death. We are not sure what took the group before us so long (it must have been at least 20 minutes to a half hour on that ledge) but the wait was worth it.

full skeleton Full skeleton

This trip is a must do, but please do so with respect for the artifacts, the cave, and the culture.