Actun Tunichil Muknal (ATM) Cave was once used by the ancient Maya but was abandoned in the years before the arrival of the Spanish. Over 1,000 years later, it was rediscovered deep in the jungles of Belize.
Here are 10 amazing facts about the ATM Cave:
1 – Discovery Channel
The Discovery Channel rated ATM Cave as the number one Sacred Cave in the world.
2 – The Crystal Maiden
The cave is sometimes called the “Cave of the Crystal Maiden” because the remains of a young adult around 20 years old were found in the cave. Its bones have fused with the crystals in the cave and now shines with an unearthly, glittery sheen.
3 – Incredible Documentaries
The History Channel, National Geographic, and the Discovery Channel have all filmed documentaries about this amazing cave.
4 – Cave of the Stone Sepulcher
Another name for the cave is the “Cave of the Stone Sepulchre” because the ancient Maya used a stalagmite to carve an enormous, beautiful altar (sepulcher) that they used for religious rites.
5 – You Have to Swim to Get In
The entrance of the cave is protected by a natural spring. Visitors who want to enter the cave must swim through a pool of water and then walk through a shallow creek to reach the part of the cave used by the ancient Maya.
6 – Andrew Zimmern
Legendary TV personality Andrew Zimmern traveled to the ATM Cave for his television show hosted on the Travel Channel.
7 – Kill Holes
The ATM Cave still hosts thousands of ancient artifacts, including ceramic pots that held food offering to the gods. These were marked with “kill holes” to indicate their religious status.
8 – Sacrificial Victims
The remains of more than a dozen people have been found in the cave, many of them very young children, some just babies. Archeologists believe they were killed by having their skulls crushed with a blunt object.
9 – No Shoes Allowed
The area with the remains of human sacrifices requires making a long climb to reach an upper chamber. In order to protect the bones, visitors are required to remove their shoes.
10 – No Photography Is Allowed
To protect the artifacts in the cave, no photography or video recording is allowed. But the memories that you make will last a lifetime!