Archaeologist Of Mayan Cave
Rituals To Speak At UNH
Contact: Erika Mantz
UNH Media Relations
April 5, 2005
DURHAM, N.H. — The Religious Studies Program at the University
of New Hampshire will host a lecture by archaeologist Keith Prufer
on the ancient rituals conducted deep inside caves across the Mayan
territories of Central America Thursday, April 14, 2005, at 4 p.m.
in Room 203 of the Memorial Union Building. The lecture is free
and open to the public.
Prufer, an assistant professor of anthropology at Wichita State
University, has excavated several of these caves himself and will
illustrate his lecture with the results of his excavations, which
were featured in a 2002 National Geographic television special.
His lecture, “In the Maw of the Earth Monster,” will
highlight many of the new findings he and others have advanced in
a new book of the same name. As portals to the supernatural realm
that creates and animates the universe, Prufer argues, caves always
have been held sacred by the peoples of Mesoamerica. From ancient
times to the present, Mesoamericans have made pilgrimages to caves
for ceremonies ranging from rituals of passage to petitions for
rain and a plentiful harvest.
Drawing on new archaeological findings and other sources like hieroglyphs,
specialists in Mesoamerican religions like Prufer have begun to
ask new questions about the role that caves played among the many
belief systems of Mesoamerica and about the possible continuities
between modern Mayan cave rituals and those unearthed by archaeologists.
For more information about Prufer’s lecture or the Religious
Studies Program, contact Program Director David Frankfurter at 603-862-3015.