tDAR Logo tDAR digital antiquity

Hallowed (under)Ground – Ancient Maya Dark Zone Use Patterns in the Subterranean Realm of Yaxcaba, Central Yucatan, Mexico

Author(s): Donald Slater

Year: 2015

» Downloads & Basic Metadata


Cave explorers and scholars classify the different light zones of underground spaces into three categories – light, twilight, and dark. Despite the practical challenges ancient people faced while traveling into and through dark zones (those entirely devoid of light), it is common across the Maya region to find rich evidence that demonstrates that these spaces were heavily utilized during Precolumbian times.

Research conducted during the 2009 - 2011 field seasons of the Central Yucatan Archaeological Cave Project (CYAC), however, produced data that suggest that the dark zones of three major caves near the pueblo of Yaxcaba were seldom accessed in ancient times despite evidence of extensive usage in each caves’ light/twilight zones. This paper presents these data in stark contrast to what is most commonly observed at other Maya cave sites, while providing interpretations that may help explain this locally isolated phenomenon.

SAA 2015 abstracts made available in tDAR courtesy of the Society for American Archaeology and Center for Digital Antiquity Collaborative Program to improve digital data in archaeology. If you are the author of this presentation you may upload your paper, poster, presentation, or associated data (up to 3 files/30MB) for free. Please visit for instructions and more information.

This Resource is Part of the Following Collections

Cite this Record

Hallowed (under)Ground – Ancient Maya Dark Zone Use Patterns in the Subterranean Realm of Yaxcaba, Central Yucatan, Mexico. Donald Slater. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 395436)


Caves Maya Mesoamerica

Geographic Keywords

Spatial Coverage

min long: -107.271; min lat: 12.383 ; max long: -86.353; max lat: 23.08 ;

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America