A Cruise That Highlights The Ancient Mayan Civilisation
Awe-inspiring, mystical and somewhat barbaric, the ancient Mayan civilisation is incredibly fascinating to study! Hailing from what is now Mexico as well as Guatemala, Belize, Honduras, Yucatan Peninsula and El Salvador, the accomplishments of these people are impressive.
Take, for example, their monumental architecture. The Mayans were incredible architects, constructing pyramids and even cities that have stood the test of time without the help of modern tools. The pyramid was made of stone, in stair step design leading to a shrine that was dedicated to one of the gods. One such pyramid was discovered as recently as 2015 beneath what was thought to be a naturally occurring hill.
In fact, scientists and anthropologists still have much to learn about this civilisation. Much of their writing, in the form of hieroglyphs, has only just been deciphered in the last few decades – understandable considering they used over 800 symbols (compared to our 26 alphabetical letters!) and much of their writing and records were destroyed by Europeans.
What is also rather impressive is their mathematical skills. Mayans displayed advanced skills when it came to maths, devising a calendar comprising 5125 years. The end of this cycle fell on December 21, 2012 and many people believed this was a prophecy that this is the date on which the world would end. However, it was just the end of the “Long Count” calendar – one of three calendars the Mayans used. They also had a 260-day sacred calendar to plan religious ceremonies, as well as a 365-day solar calendar. What is even more interesting about the 5125 year calendar is that it demonstrates one of the earliest uses of the mathematical concept of using zero as a placeholder.
Now, every civilisation has its quirks and unique traditions and the Mayans certainly had theirs. They had a habit of binding children and babies heads so that they became flattened and elongated and drilled front teeth to insert jade, pyrite, turquoise or hematite. Ouch!
They also weren’t opposed to providing human sacrifices in the hope of gaining favour with the gods. It’s thought that these human sacrifices were painted blue and sacrificed on stone alters. Some cenotes are also believed to be the sites for the sacrificial ceremonies.
To finish on a more positive note, we can thank the Mayans for discovering chocolate! Mayans ground cacao beans and combined it with a mixture of honey, water, chillis and more to produce a foamy, if not spicy, drink. Although a nice, steaming cup of modern hot chocolate definitely sounds more appealing, if that’s where the art of making chocolate came from, who’s complaining? To explore the Mayan civilisation more, wander amid the pyramids, discover the beautiful cenotes or learn more about their culture and traditions (we haven’t even touched on the ancient sport of pitz where losing could result in human sacrifice!), you need to head to southern Mexico, and especially the Yucatan Peninsula. Check out more details here or, for other options, have a chat with our Ultimate Cruising experts by requesting a call here.