By: Ryon Yu
Who were the Maya? The Maya were an ancient civilization that lived in the
Yucatan Peninsula. It is amazing how the ancient civilization of the Maya had survived for
over 500 years! In this packet there are facts on ancient Mayan culture and what it was
like back then. I hope you enjoy it!
The average Mayan daily life for normal people is the women would get up at four
in the morning and toast some leftover pancakes on a fire. Then after the men finished
eating they would go work in the field. When it turned into the afternoon the men would
sometimes check the traps they made or hunted birds. Finally, at the end of the day, the
men would come home and bathe themselves. Sometimes there was a sport that the
Mayans had played called, “Pok-ta-Pok” it is sort of like nowadays soccer but no one can
use their hands.
The Mayans had a writing system that was made up of more than 800 hieroglyphic
symbols. Unfortunately, when the Spaniards came they burned almost all of the Mayan’s
books, leaving only four codices called, the Grolier, the Dresden, the Madrid(also called
Tro-cortesianus) , and there is one in Paris. The longest existing Mayan script is the
Madrid Codex holding more than two hundred and fifty almanacs that tell calendrical
information on a certain part of Mayan history.
The Maya had believed in many gods. One of the most important gods that they
prayed to was Itzamna who was believed to have created of all things, and also being the
god of fire and the hearth. Another god that was veryimportant to the Mayans was their
god called Chac, he was the god of rain and lightning. A veryvital role that was in Mayan
religion was sacrifice to the gods. What the Mayans would do is they would cut out the
victim’s heart and also sometimes throw down the dead body to other priests below the
tower to be skinned. We have also found in rulers’ tombs there were clay statuettes,
utensils, and ceremonial objects.
The Mayans were great artists drawing art on all sorts of things like; jade, wood,
bone, stone, clay, and shells. Mayan kings also had art pieces made in their palaces to
show their great victories in war from the past. Two great pieces of Mayan art work are
the Hieroglyphic Stairway in the ancient city of Copan, and a clay figurine of a man
becoming a king.
Most Mayan people would wear pretty simple clothes. When it would be hot the
men would wear cotton loincloths while the woman would wear cotton dresses. But
when it got cold both sexes would wear a coats called a manta. The mantas were also
used as blankets during the night. While regular Mayans wore their simple clothing, the
Mayan rulers would wear ear spools, and obsidian and jade objects. Their outfits would
be represented as “The Living Tree” because it was “connecting” themto the gods and
nature. The jade had also represented breath and life in the Living Tree.
Weapons and Warfare
A majority of the Mayan weapons could be used from a far distance. For instance,
they had used spears, bows and arrows, and blowpipes. What the Mayans had often
used for armor was tightly woven cotton bodies and animal skin shields. In the area of
nowadays San Claudio was once a Mayan city. What is thought of often done by the
Mayans who inhabited this city would create weapons out of flint. The evidence to this is
that when we archaeologists discovered this site there was the amount of leftover
mineral on the ground.
It was amazing what the Mayans had used for currency. What were often used
for currency among the Maya were cocoa seeds from a cocoa tree. Approximately one
cocoa seed back then would be equaled to modern days United States dollar. But not
only was cocoa seeds their form of currency, they had also used another type of
currency which is, chocolate.
There were many rulers during the Mayan civilization. One of the rulers from the
Mayan city of Palenque was Lord Shield. The Mayans rulers had used a certain type of
pyramid as burial places. They have found Lord Shield’s tomb made out of limestone
with his mummified body covered in jade ornaments. Many of the Mayan tombs that
belonged to the rulers were found in Jaina, an island off the coast of Campeche. We have
found a monument showing the earliest know Mayan ruler of a city in Guatemala was a
The Mayans were excellent architects. The Mayans had created how to make two
types of pyramids, the first type were burial spots for rulers, while the second one was
for sacrifices and ceremonies. On top of the pyramids that were used for religious
reasons, there are small rooms that were called Triadic Groups. Outside of these rooms
is where the sacrifices were held. The Mayans had created stele to show the life of rulers,
one of the most unique stele that we have found was in 2005. It was found 90 kilometers
(54 miles) north of the Mayan city of Tikal. This stele shows a picture of a Mayan man and
a lady. The picture of the man and lady was thought of showing part of the history at
about the fourth century of A.D.
The Mayan had a variety of different foods to choose form. The most important
source of meat was turkey. Other sources of meat that the Mayans had eaten back then
were iguanas, armadillo, manatee, tapirs, rabbits, and monkeys. What was probably the
most important food to the Mayans back then would be corn, it could be eaten straight
from the cob, or you could make tortillas out of it. What was used as a sweetenerto
water and other of their drinks was honey.
What Happened to Them
Nobody really knows how the Mayans had disappeared, but there are many
theories on what had happened to the ancient civilization. Some people believe that the
Mayans had died when the Spaniards came, they were shot by the “fire sticks” or if they
weren’t shot they died from the new diseases the Spaniards brought like small pocks.
Other people think that the Mayans disappeared from constantly attacking each other, or
they gave too much of their food away and died from starvation. But as there are many
theories how the Mayans were destroyed there is no right answer until we have found