Are the ancient Maya temples in the books real? Do those secret passageways exist?
Each of the five pyramids in the Jaguar Stones is based on a real-life Maya pyramid that we’ve visited. The Temple of Chahk (Red Jaguar Stone) is based on the Pyramid of the Magician at Uxmal; the Temple of Ixchel (White Jaguar Stone) is based on El Castillo (and the Cenote) at Chichen Itza; the Temple of Itzamna (Blue/Green Jaguar Stone) is based on the Temple of the Inscriptions at Palenque; the Pyramid of Ah Pukuh (Black Jaguar Stone) is based on Temple 1 at Tikal and its location is based on Tulum; the Temple of K'awiil (Yellow Jaguar Stone) is based on the pyramid of Topoxte. In the Jaguar Stones books, the temples are named after ancient Maya gods.
As to the secret passageways, we’ve been in quite a few Maya structures that have spooky underground passageways, hidden tombs, and twisting pitch-black labyrinths.
Remember how Max and Lola enter the pyramid of Ah Pukuh through a huge scary monster mouth? You see that a lot in the Rio Bec region of Mexico. And remember how the Undead Army are sleeping in a smaller pyramid inside the temple? It was common for the Maya to build new pyramids over old ones, like the layers of an onion. Between these layers, archaeologists often discover tombs, artifacts and intricate carvings with their original paint intact.
Of course, the weather/map table in the pyramid of Chahk and the star chamber in the pyramid of Itzamna are completely fictitious. (If they’d been able to control the weather, Maya kings wouldn’t have needed to give blood to ask the gods for rain.) However, in 2012 archaeologist Bill Saturno found a room in a pyramid at Xultun where Maya astronomers tracked the planets, calculated time and projected a range of calendars. It’s the same concept as our star chamber at Itzamna, but using human calculation instead of a time machine!
Is Xibalba a real thing in Maya culture?
Yes. Xibalba is the K’iche Maya name for the underworld and means “well of fear”. In Maya mythology. the underworld was a cold, damp, scary place. It is described in the Popol Vuh as a court ruled by the Lords of Death.
Are all of the Mayan words you use real?
The Mayan words we use in the book are all actual Yucatec Mayan.