Arts, Culture & Media

Slideshow: Ancient Mayan 'Place of Bats'

We head to the tropical forests of Central America for Tuesday's Geo Quiz. These forests cover the Yucatan peninsula, some of it in Mexico, some in Guatemala.

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But back when the Maya built their civilization here, there was far fewer trees. City states and farms made up the landscape.

In the northern part of Guatemala lies a Mayan city, long since abandoned. Its name means "place of bats" in the Mayan language.

And it is swarming with bats— millions of them. Archaeologists have recently discovered an old temple here.

It's called "Diablo".

This "devil's temple" sits on a high hill and is covered in dramatic carvings or masks, painted red. It was intended to glow fiercely, like a beacon, at sunrise and sunset.

The place of bats is El Zotz, and that's our answer.

Stephen Houston is an archaeologist with Brown University who's done a lot of work there, and describes the temple he's excavating and the bats that swarm nearby.

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    Katie Simon

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    An image of one of the carved faces of the Diablo temple. (Photo: Stephen Houston)


    Katie Simon

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    Mask #3 found at the Diablo in El Zotz. (Photo: El Zotz Archeological Project, Brown University)