▷ Ancient History : Treasures of the Yucatan

Sally introduced the Ancient History Group to the Mayan culture and its treasures with photos which she had taken on a two week holiday there. The Mayan culture lasted from 200BC to 900 AD, but it had probably existed for much longer as a hunter gatherer society. The cities, about 40 of them, were build in a period between 250 – 600 AD. Each city was ruled by a king and had their own Gods. The cities were highly competitive with each other, which were fierce, whereby the losing team of their traditional ball games was often killed or otherwise punished. Apart from kings there were nobles and priests, as well as merchants, artisans, peasants and slaves, the latter were at times also used for making a sacrifice. Their most famous drink, Tequila, is made from the blue agave plant which is also used for textiles, ropes and tools.
 
A long time ago it is said that an asteroid hit the area and created a system of caves with fresh water. These geological structures are made of limestone which allows for underground waterways. Their belief system had created many gods, some living in the caves, others high up who were called earth Gods. The most important God was the feathered serpent rain God. There are carvings of him everywhere. The important festivals were spring and autumn equinox. It was customary to sacrifice children to the Gods at such festivals. Considered the earliest civilisation were the Olmecs who lived in the lower tropical parts of Mexico. They created colossal head sculptures made of basalt which are now well known. They are often cross-eyed with flat heads. These features were considered attractive also by the Mayans, They would dangle an item close to a bay’s eyes to produce a cross-eyed look and also bind a piece of wood to the forehead to make their head flat.The Mayan decline began before the Spanish invaded and was caused by a mixture of drought, deforestation, social unrest and malnutrition.