Along with being used for subsistance purposes, the cenotes and caves of the Yucatan held significant spiritual meaning in Mayan culture. They were thought of as entrances to the underworld, called Xibalba, where the Mayan gods and ancestors could be contacted by the living. Many sacred rituals and ceremonies were therefore held within these underground chambers because they were considered to be closer to divine and supernatural powers. It is for this same reason that many archaeologists speculate that cenotes were used as a site for human sacrifice and burial. Though numerous skeletal remains of ancient Mayans have been found within these structures, the notion of their use for such purposes is questionable. For one thing, the decomposition of bodies within centotes would have certainly contaminated the Mayan's only water source. In addition, many of the Mayan civilizations built around cenotes had been inhabited for hundreds of years, meaning that far more bodies would have been discovered had sacrifice and burial been a common practice within cenotes.
Solution Caves are able to form because certain conditions allow it. Limestone, which comprises much of the bedrock of the Yucatan Peninsula is an essential ingredient. Rain water, as it falls from the sky, mixes with carbon dioxide to form a weak solution called carbonic acid. As this concoction seeks the water table below the surface, it dissolves the limestone. Over the course of many thousands of years the caves are formed. The same beautiful decorations that one might encounter in a dry cave such as stalactites, stalagmites, columns and halactites are all present here in the Yucatan Peninsula.
The Yucat?n Peninsula is composed of a large and intricate system of beautiful underwater caves and cenotes. These caves have formed formed from a combination of varying geologic phenomenon such as glaciation, dissolution and the impact of a large asteroid.
The Yucat?n Peninsula is a porous limestone shelf with no above-ground rivers or lakes. Instead there are underground rivers, lakes, sinkholes and caves. The caves of the Yucat?n were sacred places for the Mayas and are impressive places to visit. When visiting the caves it is important to ALWAYS enter with a guide.