Actun Tunichil Muknal

Cave

is a cave in Belize, near San IgnacioCayo District, notable as a Maya archaeological site that includes skeletons, ceramics, and stoneware. There are several areas with skeletal remains in the main chamber. The best known is "The Crystal Maiden", the skeleton of an adolescent (an 18-year-old girl), possibly a sacrifice victim, whose bones have been calcified to a sparkling, crystallized appearance. Recent studies however claim that the remains are male and not female.

The ceramics at the site are significant partly because they are marked with "kill holes", which indicate that they were used for ceremonial purposes. Many of the Maya artifacts and remains are completely calcified to the cave floor. One artifact, named the "Monkey Pot", is one of just four of its type found in Central America. The Maya also modified cave formations here, in some instances to create altars for the offerings, in others to create silhouettes of faces and animals or to project a shadow image into the cave. The cave is extensively decorated with cave formations in the upper passages.

Animal life in the cave includes a large population of bats, large freshwater crabscrayfishcatfish and other tropical fish. Large invertebrates like Amblypygi and various predatory spiders also inhabit the cave. Agouti and otters may also use the cave. These and many other species are quite common in river caves of this size in Belize.

Depart: 8:00 am