Mayan Archeology By: Grant Maclachlan
I am an archeologist studying the Maya culture. I’m at some of
the ruins that the Maya built. Let’s take a look around.
You can see the hieroglyphs that the Maya carved into their
buildings and temples. The hieroglyphs tell stories about what
was happening in the time that the hieroglyphs were made. Here
are some examples of some of them etched into some stone.
Religon is very important to everyone, but it was especially
important to the Mayan people because they worshiped and
believed in so many gods. The Mayan people once saw Venus in
the sky for 260 days straight, which meant war was coming. To try
to stop the coming war, the Mayan people started to do human
sacrifices. In the human sacrifice, they cut open the person’s
chest, and they ripped the heart out and placed it in a cup. It was
believed that once the heart had dried up in the cup, a god had
‘eaten’ the heart. This is a picture of one of the 4 surviving
codices (or books). It tells all about the ritual of human sacrifice
and the Mayan people’s religion.
Mayan art was very detailed and treasured. Their most
treasured material was jade. The Mayans carved masks out of
jade for the rulers. They also made vases that had detailed
pictures and sometimes the vases even told stories. Here is an
example of a Mayan vase.
Mayan government rulers were loved and believed almost
as much as gods. There were 16 rulers that ruled Copan. The
most famous of them all was Lord Shield. He was the most known
and remembered ruler. One day some explorers were walking
down this hallway, and they found a secret stairway under the
floor. They walked down the stairs and they found a limestone
coffin. They opened it up and inside was Lord Shield! He was one
of the only preserved Mayan mummies. This is a portrait of him.
The Mayan’s architecture was amazing. They could build
temples in a quick amount of time. Some uses for these pyramids
were for human sacrifices, burial grounds, or just for the public to
walk around in. The Mayans even built temples and pyramids that
would cast a shadow on the steps of the pyramid or temple if it
was sunny out on a religious day. This is a picture of a pyramid
that could cast a shadow.
I bet you’re wondering what Mayan daily life was like. Well,
most of the women got up at 4 o’clock to make breakfast for the
men. At 5 o’clock, the men went out to farm. While the men were
at work, the women stayed home and prepared for the next meal.
But on the children’s 14th birthday, there would be a ceremony. As
a baby, the children’s parents would attach a bead to a boy’s hair,
and a string to a girl’s waist. At the ceremony, the bead and the
string were cut off and the children were considered adults. They
moved out of their parent’s house. There was also a ball game
that the Mayans played. The game was called Pok-ta-pok. In this
game, players wore protective pads like the ones used in present
day football. The players tried to get a rubber ball through a small
ring, but they couldn’t use their hands or feet. Do you think they
played this game for fun? Well, the losers were often killed! Here
are some Pok-ta-pok players.
The Mayans were very advanced in math. They could build
pyramids that cast shadows on certain parts of the pyramids on
certain days. They knew about constellations. But one of their
most amazing discoveries was their calculation on how long a
year was. The Mayans estimated that a year was 365.2420 days
long. But using the latest technology, we calculated that a year is
365.2422 days long. The Mayan’s guess was very close to the
actual. The Mayan calendar was also very interesting. It consisted
of 18 months, and the months were sometimes named after gods.
I brought in a replica of one, but here is a picture. You can see
that they are very detailed.
To end this report, our last topic is about what happened to
them. Well, actually no one is sure about what happened to them.
I think some Spaniards invaded their culture. Other people
suggest that there was a famine, disease, drought, or even a civil
war! One of the reasons we don’t know about their culture is
because Spaniards burnt almost all of the Mayan’s books. And
people stopped making pillars that told stories. In fact, they
abandoned many unfinished things including sculptures of
animals. Here is a picture of an unfinished sculpture of a bull.
Well, that wraps up my report all about the Maya. I hope
that you learned lots of facts, and enjoyed my report!