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10 Interesting Facts About Maya Civilization

Mayans developed entire cities across Mesoamerica. Their pyramids are still being discovered, but what always manages to surprise us is the way this ancient civilization knew to fill their free time with various activities. Their cities had ballcourts, saunas, sculptures, and hieroglyphs.

Here are some facts about Mayan culture you probably didn’t get to hear before

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1. A Maya Pyramid has been discovered in 2015

Despite what you may think, it seems that archaeologists still didn’t find the track to all of the Mayan main monuments. The pyramid they discovered was hidden under what was believed to be a natural hill and turned out to be Mexico’s tallest pyramid at 246 feet (75 meters). The 1000 years old pyramid is located at Tonina in the Mexican state of Chiapas.

2. Mayans loved chocolate

Even though they weren’t the first civilization in Mesoamerica to realize that you can eat chocolate, Mayans made it into a form of art. They were processing and drinking cacao since 600 BC. The Mayan would combine cacao with water, honey, chili peppers, cornmeal in order to make the foamy, spicy drink that was an important part of their rituals.

3. The Maya had a complicated system of hieroglyphs

Mayan writings are preserved on buildings, stone monuments, rare books, and pottery. The first letters discovered date from 300 BCE to 100 CE, and their words were constructed from combinations of more than 800 hieroglyphs. Mayan system of writing is considered to be the most advanced of its kind in Mesoamerica.

4. Mayan civilization never predicted the December 21 “End Of The World “

There was a lot of fuss about the doomsday that would come on December 21, 2012, as predicted by the Maya. What’s actually true is that that date just coincided with the end of a full cycle of 5125 years of the Mayan Calendar. This cycle is called “Long Count Calendar”. The Mayan Calendar has one of the earliest applications of zero as a mathematical concept in history.

5. Mayans used piercings

Not only this civilization had their own beauty standards, died their clothes and used makeup. They even had piercings in their front teeth and had them decorated with jade, pyrite, hematite or turquoise.

6. They enjoyed sweat baths

Mayans were building sauna-like structures out of stone or adobe. These sweat-baths were visited for health purposes and ritual cleansing. They have been found at the site like Tikal in Guatemala, Joya de Ceren, and Cuello, in northern Belize.

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7. Mayans played extreme sports

The Mayan game Pitz was one of the most prominent sports they were playing. Ballcourts were found at Maya cities in Mexico. But playing the sport wasn’t only for entertainment. It was also an important ritual which could result in human sacrifice if the team lost the game.

8. It’s still unknown why the Maya civilization went into decline

The civilization was at peak during the Classic Maya period from 300 to 660 CE. But from 8th and 9th centuries, Maya cities that used to hold up to 70.000 inhabitants were abandoned. Archaeologists still can’t discover due to which factors this occurred.

9. Mayan hieroglyphs were cracked in mid- 20th century

A former architect, Tatiana Proskouriakoff, was invited on an expedition to the Piedras Negras Maya site in Guatemala. Despite her lack of knowledge in archeology and history, she eventually became one of the most prominent Mayanists. She was the first to decode some Mazas’s glyphs and her paper “Historical Implication of a Pattern of Dates at Piedras Negras, Guatemala” was a big breakout in archeology field.

10. Maya didn’t vanish

Even though their cities went deserted, Maya people didn’t cease to exist. Their descendants are mostly found in Guatemala where they make up a majority of the population.

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