Unbelievable Facts about the Mayan Civilization

Fernando Hernandez Perez (at right) "Apocalypto" Copyright: ©Icon Distribution, Inc., All rights reserved Photo Credit: Andrew Cooper, SMPS

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Practically there are few people who don’t know about the Mayan civilization. It rose and fell many times throughout a huge span of time, almost two thousand years and till today you may find the Mayan culture in numerous Mayans who inhabit the Yucatan peninsula. Here are some unbelievable facts about this special civilization that might astonish you!

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Mayan civilization has decayed and has already been seized long ago, still in many rural areas of Mexico and Guatemala Mayan language and culture exists.

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There are an expected 7 million Maya still living in and around the Yucatan Peninsula

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The ancient Mayans often wanted to “enhance” their children’s physical features by pressing boards on their foreheads so that they would be flatter. It is a common practice in the upper class.

Objects were also often suspended in front of a kid’s eyes until the baby was cross eyed, one more anticipated characteristic found in nobility.

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In addition to flattened foreheads and crossed eyes, Mayan nobleman manipulated their original noses with putty giving them a beaked shape. Their teeth were also decorated with emerald.

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Nobel women used to filed their teeth into points

Mayan medicine was pretty advanced. They sewed wounds using human hair, filled teeth, and also made prosthesis

Mayans used natural painkillers in both religious rituals as mind-expanding drugs and in medicine (as sedatives

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The Mayans were keen players of the “Mesoamerican Ballgame”. Courts were set up in all main cities and it was often related with execution and sacrifice of the defeating team.

The severed heads were thought to be used as balls

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A modern version called “Ulama” is played till today, but beheading is clearly no longer a part of the game

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The ruins and pyramids seen in pictures are most likely of Chichen Itza, one of the major Mayan cities. Prisoners, slaves, and others were arranged for sacrifice by painted blue and sometimes tortured. They were first led up to the top of one of the pyramids. There they were either killed with a stream of arrows or their still beating heart was cut out of their chest by the priest. Sometimes, the assistants of the main priest would then peel the victim and the head priest would wear the skin and execute a ritual dance.

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The Mayans had one of the most progressive writing systems of any prehistoric civilization and wrote on almost anything they could get, including buildings. Unluckily, many of their writings were misplaced during the Spanish defeat. Through hard study during the 20th and 21 centuries much of the residual writings have been recuperated and decoded

Nobody knows how the Mayan Empire failed. Scholars have theorized reasons ranging from drought and dearth to overpopulation and a change in climate.

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