Nearly 10,000 bones show Midnight Terror Cave lived up to its name
ATLANTA — Grim discoveries in Belize’s aptly named Midnight Terror Cave shed light on a long tradition of child sacrifices in ancient Maya society.
A large portion of 9,566 human bones, bone fragments and teeth found on the cave floor from 2008 to 2010 belonged to individuals no older than 14 years, bioarchaeologist Michael Prout reported April 15 at the annual meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists. Many of the human remains came from 4- to 10-year-olds. Because these bones are so fragmented, it’s difficult to estimate precisely how many individuals lay in the cave.
Prout, of California State University, Los Angeles, and colleagues suspect these children were sacrificed to a rain, water and lightning god that the ancient Maya called Chaac.