The Ancient Mayans in Antiquity


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An essay explaining the Mayan Civilization during the period of Antiquity.

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The Ancient Mayans in Antiquity

  1. 1. The Ancient Mayans in AntiquityThe Ancient Mayans worshipped nature gods such as Chac or Chak who was the god of rain, Cisin who wasthe god of death, Hun Hanaphu the god of maize. When Hun Hanaphu is under the protection of Chac heflourishes but when he is under the famine or drought (Cisin) he dies off. They also worship the gods suchas Hunaphu, Hun Hanapu’s son. He is one of the gods of the sun. The Ancient Mayans believed that maize(corn) grew underground and that is why the sun “disappeared” underground each day. Some of theother gods were Xbalanque, the god of the moon. He and his twin brother, Hunaphu, went into theUnderworld to challenge the death god to raise their father, Hun Hanaphu, back to life. After tricking thedeath god to bring their father back to life they split the sky with Xblanque getting the moon and Hunaphugetting the sun. Ixchel is the goddess of rainbows, family, and healing. The older brothers of Hunaphu andXblanque were also twins. They were named Hun Batz and Hun Chuen. They were transformed intomonkeys after trying to stop Hunaphu and Xblanque rescue their father. Hunaphu and Xblanque trickedthem into a tree that they could not descend from. They are the patron gods of writing, dance, the visualarts, and calculating. Ahaw K’in is also the sun god, however he transforms in to the Jaguar God of theunderworld at night. Ix Ch’up is the goddess of the moon. She is married to the god of the sun. She issometimes depicted as missing an eye due to her and her husband fighting. Itzamna was believed to havecreated the world. He invented the calendar and writing. The Mayans had over 800 glyphs. The Mayans made sacrifices in the “step pyramids”; pyramids that recede at each level instead ofbeing smooth sided. The pyramid represented the mountains where some gods were said to live and the
  2. 2. entrances were made to be similar to the caves that the gods lived in underground. Some people werethrown into sinkholes to catch a glimpse of the gods. If they survived, they were told to report what theysaw to the king. The kings and priests performed religious practices that involved the burning ofceremonial materials. They had a certain class of people called Mayan Priests that performed thereligious practices. The ancient Mayans did not have 1 single king; they had multiple kings each ruling overa section of Ancient Maya. The Mayan Kings were considered to be descendants of the gods, particularlyAhaw K’in. The Ancient Mayans practiced a religion made up of astrology, divination, and rituals involvinganimal and human sacrifices. The Mayans believed that if they didn’t celebrate different festivals disasterwould strike. Many towns had “Shaman” which also performed some practices. The Shamans were mainlycalled upon to ward off evil spirits. They used the Jaguar symbol to ward away evil. The Mayans also paid great attention to the various cycles of rain and the harvest. The Mayansperformed religious dances and various acts to please the gods before harvest time and thanked themwith various other celebrations after the harvest. They had many forms of art to show the gods as theysaw them and in the different forms. The Mayans believed in the afterlife. Commoners were buried under their houses with thefamilies. The Mayans believed that if you had a rough life but did good deeds you would have a goodafterlife. They also believed the world had 3 layers – The Heavens, Underworld, and the Earth.
  3. 3. Bibliography History Societies of the Past Grade 8 Textbook