One of the most dominant societies of pre-Colombian Central America, Mayan Civilization developed the same time as the Aztecs.
But the Mayan people were able to outlive and proceed Aztecs by hundreds of years. In fact, the Mayan civilization is over two thousand years old and some of the Mayans are still alive, who live in modern day Guatemala region.
According to studies, the Mayans were one of the most advanced and unique ancient culture of the Mesoamerican era. While some people might think Mayans failed to predict if 2012 would be the end of the world, but Mayans never said anything about world’s end. It was all assumption.
Here are some astounding facts you probably didn’t know about the Mayan Civilization:
1.They Used Saunas
Believe it or not Mayans used their own version of saunas, or sweat baths for revitalization. They were constructed with stone walls, and ceilings.
While the water poured on the hot rocks created steam in the room, there was a small opening on the ceiling to help with the process. Sweat baths were used by everyone including kings, new mothers and sick people.
2.Violent Ball Games
The ancient Mayans played ballgames which was very similar to modern day basketball, except this was extremely dangerous.
Instead of playing with their hands or feet, players were meant to use other parts of their body, even their heads. There were rings positioned on the opposite ends of the field, which looked a lot like basketball hoops, and the balls were made of rubber which weighed over eight pounds.
Even though the players did wear protective gear, it wasn’t as advanced, and with the weight of the ball, it would have been pretty common for the players to get hurt or even die.
3.They Used Painkillers
Researchers have found out that Mayans used natural ingredients to make their own version of pain killers. These were general used in rituals and were made from tobacco, mushrooms, morning glory and plants that are used to make alcohol. For rapid absorption, ritual enemas were also used for painkiller.
Just like many other ancient cultures, blood sacrifices were common in Mayan civilization too. They especially sacrificed small children to their gods because they believed kids had pure soul and by offering them to their gods, they could somehow bring prosperity.
While the Mayans no longer sacrifice humans, they still use animal and chicken blood for their ancient rituals.
5.Advanced Writing Skills
Much like the Egyptians, Mayans also used hieroglyphs for communication. They were able to communicate stories and write full sentences. It has also been reported that most of the Mayans were able to understand common hieroglyphs. Using quills that were made of turkey feather, the Mayans filled their buildings with hieroglyphs, and also wrote books.
6.Sophisticated Medical Technique
Shamans in the Mayan culture were a medium between the spiritual world and the physical world. In other words, they were the modern day equivalent of doctors. For healing purpose, they not only had a vast medical knowledge, but they also practiced sorcery.
This was because in the Mayan culture science, religion and ritual were all mashed up together. For surgical purposes they used turquoise and jade to make prostheses, and iron pyrite for teeth fillings.
7.Reason For Their Collapse Is Still A Mystery
The southern lowland parts of the Mayan civilization completely declined in the 9th century and were quickly abandoned after that.
Researchers have speculated many reasons for this fall but nobody has been able to find the real reason behind it.
Some of the most popular theories include invasions by foreigners, peasant revolt, destruction of major trade routes and overpopulation. Some researchers also believe that this could have been because of environmental changes as there evidence that the Mayans over hunted fauna and exhausted their agricultural potential.
8.Their Predictions About December 12, 2012
The date marked the end of the Long Count Calendar made by the Mayans. And while some believe it indicated the end of the world, it obviously did not happen.
Mayans chose this date as the end of their calendar because it a very rare cosmic event when equinoxes place our solar system at the centre of the galaxy and the Earth crosses ecliptic path of the sun. We don’t know what this really means since this kind of alignment only occurs once in 150,000 years. But Mayans that are still alive believe that this marks the beginning of a spiritual awakening.