tour. This was the best of three tours I took while in Mexico.
Steve Cerodio, CAN
"La Expedición rebaso mis
expectativas, aprendí mucho acerca de la Cultura
Williams, USA Más
About the Maya
Mayan Civilization and Culture
- Chichen Itza, one of the main Maya settlements on the Yucatan Peninsula during the Post-Classic period and recently announced as one of the New Seven World Wonders, was discovered in 1904 by Edward Herbert Thompson.
- In the region known as the "Maya World", which is formed by the countries El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Belize and the Mexican states of Tabasco, Campeche, Yucatan and Quintana Roo, there are hundreds of significant Maya sites to be found. Thousands of smaller ones also exist but only a small proportion of these have been extensively excavated and are open for public viewing.
- Tikal, the largest Maya centre located in the Peten Area in northern Guatemala flourished during the Classic Maya Period from 200- 850 DC and had an estimated population of 75.000 – 100.000 Mayas.
- More than 6 million Maya live today in Guatemala, Mexico and Belize.
- Modern Mayan languages descend from Proto Mayan, a language thought to have been spoken at least 5,000 years ago.
- In 1996, Guatemala formally recognized 21 Mayan languages by name and Mexico currently recognizes eight more.
- The Popol Vuh is the creation story of the Maya and it narrates the inexistence of the world until the creator decided to generate life. The intention was that these creations could speak to him about how grateful they were for their life. First the earth was created followed by the animals and at last humankind. Initially they were formed out of mud, but this failed and so the Creator decided to carve them out of wood. These men were vain and frivolous and so the creator destroyed them. He then formed them out of corn, the sacred material from which humans as we know them originate.
- In 600 A.D. the Mexican Maya’s average life span was 63 years but in France only 27 years.
- The Maya had two calendars. One of these was a ritual calendar, known as the Tzolkin, composed of 260 days. It contained 13 "months" of 20 days each, the months being named after 13 gods while the twenty days were numbered from 0 to 19. The second calendar was a 365-day civil calendar called the Haab. This calendar consisted of 18 months, named after agricultural or religious events, each with 20 days (again numbered 0 to 19) and a short "month" of only 5 days that was called the Wayeb. The Wayeb was considered an unlucky period and Landa wrote in his classic text that the Maya did not wash, comb their hair or do any hard work during these five days. Anyone born during these days would have bad luck and remain poor and unhappy all their lives.
- The ancient Maya considered flat foreheads and crossed eyes beautiful. To achieve these effects, children would have boards bound tight to their heads and wax beads tied to dangle before their eyes. Both men and women made cuts in their skin to gain much-desired scar markings, and women sharpened their teeth to points, another mark of beauty.
- The Maya believed that the universe was flat and square, but infinite in area.
- For the Maya, physical and spiritual health is one and the same.
- The recreation most favoured by the Maya was the ball game, courts for which can still be seen at many archaeological sites. It’s thought that the players had to try to keep a hard rubber ball airborne using any part of their body other than their hands, head or feet. A wooden bat may also have been used. The ball game was taken very seriously and was often used to settle disputes between rival communities. On occasion, it is thought, the captain of the losing team was punished by execution.