Man-made and pseudo-karst caves: The implications of subsurface features within Maya centers


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Publication Date

January 1992


Recent investigations at a number of sites in the highlands of Guatemala have uncovered the existence of man‐made, man‐modified, and pseudo‐karst caves. The caves were excavated from volcanic or volcanically derived Tertiary and Quaternary age rocks, with construction methods varying according to rock hardness, and the pre‐existence of pseudo‐karst caves and springs. Some of these caves are of considerable length and are associated with site centers or places of particular ritual importance. Their continued role as local and even regional foci of ritual activity suggests that these features were created to lend a sense of sanctity to the sites where they are located. The analysis of these features within the context of site architecture deomonstrates the central symbolic importance of caves within Maya cultural geography.

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Geoarchaeology, Vol. 7, no. 2 (1992).