Throughout history, there have been some very interesting and amazing groups of people. One such group of people is definitely the ancient Mayans from Mexico. We have always heard a bit about them, but in 2012, the USA was more interested in the Mayans than ever before because of their calendars ending, which millions of people felt meant that the end of the world upon us. And while the Mayan calendars are interesting, there are also some other interesting things about this fascinating group of people. Here are 12 amazing facts about the Mayans, with number 5 being especially mind blowing.
#12 These Mayans Enhanced Their Physical Features At Birth
In most western cultures, whatever we are born looking like is usually just what we have to accept. But in a lot of other cultures, people manipulate their bodies in a certain way, such as Japanese women rolling up their feet in a rope to make them smaller. Mayans also did things like this as they wanted flat foreheads and would attach boards to the foreheads of babies. Check out the 9th entry for something else that was desirable.
#11 Sweat Baths Were Sacred
While sweat baths and saunas are fairly popular nowadays, they were sacred back in the Mayan times and were used and loved extensively. The Mayans believed that people could remove impurities in their body by sitting in these sweat baths and sweating those impurities right out of their bodies quickly.
#10 The Medical Knowledge of Shamans Was High
While there is no doubting that there is more medical knowledge available now than ever before, the Mayans did pretty well for themselves, thousands of years ago. The Mayan Shamans were so good that they could fix up wounds, attend to broken bones and even do some kinds of dental work. Check out the third entry for something else they were very skilled at.
#9 They Actually Desired to Be Cross-Eyed
While a lot of people are cross-eyed, you likely wouldn’t say it is a desirable trait. But in Ancient Maya, it most definitely was. In fact, they would often dangle objects right in front of the eyes of babies, to ensure that they would grow up to be cross-eyed.
#8 Children Began Working at The Age of 5
While most people in Western cultures don’t start working until they are a young teenager at the earliest, most Mayan children began at the age of 5. Most children were considered “adults” at this age and the little girls were responsible for chores while little boys would go help men plow the fields.
#7 Blood Sacrifice Was Important
Back in Mayan times, there was no shame in blood sacrifice. This would involve sacrificing animals to the gods by slaughtering it. In fact, this practice still exists today but involves killing a chicken and then eating it, so it is slightly less barbaric than the practices of the past.
#6 Mayans Played Extreme Sports
While sports are extremely popular now, they were also popular in Ancient Maya. They played a game called the Mesoamerican Ballgame. This game used an 8-pound rubber ball, that could not touch the ground. The teams had to do anything to keep the ball up, and this game called numerous violent deaths.
#5 Being a Sacrifice Was No Fun
While some of us may think a sacrifice has to be special in some way, this was not always the case. Sacrifices would first be painted blue, and then be tortured horrifically. Then you would either be struck by 100 arrows by an archery team, or have your heart cut out while you are still alive.
#4 The Whole Mayan Calendar Ordeal Was a Myth
In 2012, people were worried about the end of the world because the Mayan calendars ended. Many people thought this meant that they predicted the end of the world, which wasn’t the case at all. The Mayans actually had several other ones, and just switched to another after 2012.
#3 They Had a Very Advanced Writing System
While not many ancient cultures had a very advanced method of written communication, the Mayans were different. They had a very complex writing system and they would basically write on anything they could find. While a lot of their works have been lost or destroyed, some have remained and have even been translated.
#2 Hallucinogens Were Commonly Used
Being as advanced medicine wasn’t available back then, the Mayans relied on a lot of drugs and plants for their medical needs when they weren’t feeling great. Things like Peyote and mushrooms were consumed both in rituals and for celebration, and even for their pain-killing properties from time to time.
#1 The Maya Actually Existed for a Long Time
While many of us believe that the Mayan culture largely collapsed in ancient times, this isn’t the case. In fact, the Mayan Kingdom actually lasted until 1697. While other events dwindled their population and power throughout history, this was the true end of the Mayan people as we knew it.
So as you can see, the Mayans could definitely go head to head with any other fascinating group of people in history. And while our interest in them definitely peaked a few years ago, it doesn’t mean that we completely forgot about them altogether. This group of people were pioneers in the area of writing, art, mathematics and of course, calendar-making. And when you add in the 12 different and amazing facts that you just read about them, there is no doubting the fact that this group of individuals is among the most researched and interesting of all time.