I love knowing curiosities and the history of the places he visited. And one of the things that most caught my attention when traveling to the Yucatan Peninsula was learning more about the Mayans, the civilization that reigned in this area for centuries.
1. The Mayans never went extinct
Contrary to what you might think, the Mayans never went extinct. With the arrival of the Spanish colonies, there were quite a few deaths, it is true, especially due to diseases brought by the settlers. But today, there are still about 7 million people descended from the Mayan civilization.
2. The Mayans settled down;
The Mayan civilization spread through several American countries; in the Yucatan peninsula in Mexico , in Honduras, Belize, in El Salvador and in Guatemala. So it is possible to take a tour of important archaeological sites in all these countries.
It is one of the oldest ancient civilizations on the continent. He was born approximately 3,000 years ago.
3. The Mayans believed in many gods
The Mayans were polytheists , so they believed in many gods. Some of the most popular gods were: Hanab Ku (The God of Gods), Kukulcan (The God of Wind and Water), Chac (The God of Rain), Ahau Kin (The God of the Sun), Ix Chel ( The Moon Goddess) and Buluc Chabtan (The God of War). Although they had many more gods they believed in, like the god of corn, the god of cultivation…
4. More advanced cultures and knowledge
The Mayan Civilization had a very advanced culture. As well as very exact knowledge for the time in which they were. Knowledge of mathematics, astronomy…
In the field of mathematics they introduced the concept “zero”, being the first. Another outstanding advanced knowledge is in the field of astronomy. They created a solar calendar, predicted eclipses, divided the year into seasons…
5. Universe divided into 3 parts
The Mayans thought that the universe was divided into 3 parts: the sky (where the celestial bodies lived), the earth (where they lived, with all the elements of nature) and the underworld (where the gods of death reigned).
6. Advanced medicine
Medicine was another field in which the Mayans had a great mastery. They had extensive knowledge in natural medicine, using herbs and spices to make their cures. Some studies believe that they were the civilization of the most advanced time in medicine and sanction.
7. The end of the world in 2012…
One of the most famous curiosities is that the Mayans predicted that the end of the world would be for the December solstice of 2012. Obviously, this prophecy was not fulfilled. Although some continue to believe that it is possible that the Mayans were wrong in some calculation and that the end of the world cannot be far away.
8. Mayan writing
The Mayan civilization knew how to write. Although not everyone did, writing was taught from an early age. They had a script similar to Egyptian hieroglyphics.
9. Mayan architecture
Architecture was another of the great feats of the Mayans. Its stepped pyramids scattered throughout the territory were not purely everyday and/or aesthetic. They played with the sunlight to orient themselves on a schedule and calendar.
The pyramid of Kukulkan in the archaeological zone of Chichen Itza is a clear example. The pyramid has 4 stairways, each with 91 steps. If we add the upper platform to these, the number we obtain is 365. Yes, each step represents a day of the Mayan calendar ( haab ). And it is that one of the most amazing findings is that its solar calendar was 365 days.
10. Barter, the oldest form of payment
Yes, the Mayans also used barter. The Mayan civilization works agriculture and marketing. Its products are prized were cocoa, honey and cotton.
There was no money, so they traded based on barter.
11. The oldest road network in the world
The Mayans, in order to be able to sell their products and trade with other peoples, sometimes had to travel many kilometers along impassable roads. For this reason, they were the first to create a road network . They called them Sacbe , which means “the white path”.
Their name comes from the fact that they were elevated paths covered with lime, so they could be visible even at night. It is possible to see some remains of these paths in several archaeological sites, one of the most notable is in the Ek Balam Ruins.
12. Tell me what day you were born and I will know your name
The names of people were conditioned by the day of their birth. In the Mayan culture, at birth there is a spirit of nature that will protect us throughout life. Each day was associated with a name.
13. Sacrifices, they were part of everyday life
Animal and human sacrifices were part of daily life. I have already told you about their bloodiest sacrifices and rituals in curiosities of Mexico. Some of the most “innocent” rituals were self-harming in order to shed blood and keep their gods happy.
14. The cenotes, the favorite place for sacrifices
The cenotes were the favorite places for sacrifices. The Mayans believed that the God of rain (Chac) lived in the cenotes. So sacrifices were very common in the cenotes, especially of children and virgin women.
Currently, the cenotes are one of the essential things to visit when you travel to the Yucatan Peninsula. They attract us, we love them and they make us fall in love, but… when you think about the number of innocent sacrifices they made in these places, it makes you a little creepy, isn’t it?
15. Chewing gum was invented by the Mayans
The Mayans invented chewing gum. Or at least, they have claimed this popular invention. Apparently they were the first to extract the resin from the Zapotes (a type of tree) and chewed it in order to clean their teeth.