Ancient Mayans Facts
Fast FactsEssential FactsInteresting Facts
- Definition: Mesoamerican civilization of the Maya peoples
- Location: Parts of Mexico, Belize, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras
- Origin: 2000 BC
- Periods: Pre-classic period, classic period and post-classic period
- Currency: Cacao
- Achievements: Abstract mathematics and astronomy
- Sites: El Mirador, Kaminaljuyu, Tikal, Teotihuacan
- Dances: Snake Dance, Monkey Dance and Dance of the Stag
- Books: Well of Sacrifice by C. Eboch (1999), Breaking the Maya Code by M. D. Coe (2012)
- Movies: Apocalypto (2006), Mystery of the Maya (1995), Mayan Prophecies and Crop Circles (2010)
K’iche’ is the Most Spoken Mayan Language with 2.3 Million Speakers
Although most people know Mayans only for their powerful ancient civilization, Mayan facts show that the language of Mayans is still present in the modern world. Around 2.3 million people still speak a language called K’iche’, which is the most widely spoken of nearly 30 Mayan languages that are spoken in Guatemala, Mexico, Belize and Honduras. All these languages descend from Proto-Mayan – a theoretical language that was supposedly spoken in the region more than 5, 000 years ago and was reconstructed by 20th century linguists from modern Mayan languages and classic Mayan inscriptions.
The Lives of Mayan People Were Centered around Religion
Mayan facts show that life in the great Maya civilization centered around religion, which had an important effect on many other areas of life. The modern Maya religion, which is still practiced nowadays in Guatemala, Belize, western Honduras and some areas of Mexico, has been influenced by Roman Catholicism over the centuries and is quite a bit different from the ancient Maya religion that is millennia old. The old Maya religion is responsible for many great achievements of the Mayan civilization, including the in(famous) Mayan calendar and spectacular pyramids.
The Mayans Had over 150 Gods in Their Complex Religion
Mayan facts reveal that the ancient Maya religion is very complex, having over 150 gods who are each clearly defined by their characteristics and purposes. Five of these gods were worshipped very often according to ancient texts, and are thus considered to be the most important ones. The first is Itzamn (also known as Zamn), the lord of the heavens and night and day, who was always ready to be called upon in hard times. The second, the right hand of Itzamn, is Chac, sometimes even more important that the lord of the heavens himself, since he is the god of rain and thus in a way also the god of life. The third god is Ah Mun, the corn god and the god of agriculture, the fourth is Ah Puch, the god of death, and the fifth is Ek Chuah, the god of war, human sacrifice and violent death (all of which the ancient Mayan kingdom had plenty).
The Mayan Diet Was Surprisingly Varied for the Time
Although the mighty ancient Maya civilization started millennia ago, the diet of its people was surprisingly good and far surpassed those of most other civilizations of the time. The majority of the early Mayans were farmers who planted their fields as a community, using various farming tools and techniques. Their main crops were corn, beans, avocados, chili peppers, pineapples, squashes and an ingredient which is still very important to many modern diets – cacao. When it comes to animal meat, the Maya people mainly hunted deer, rabbits, fish and turkeys; the latter were also kept as domestic animals. The Mayan diet frequently also included delights such as tomatoes, sweet potatoes and papaya…
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