1 October 2022 The Future is the Product of the Past

Incredible Mayan Inventions and Achievements

The Mayans excelled at agriculture, pottery, writing, calendars, and arithmetic, leaving an incredible quantity of spectacular architecture and symbolic artwork behind.

The ancient Maya, a varied collection of indigenous people who lived in modern-day Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras, had one of the most sophisticated and complex civilizations in the Western Hemisphere.

Mayan civilization lasted for over 2,000 years, but the period from about 300 A.D. to 900 A.D., known as the Classic Period, was its heyday.

The Maya gained a sophisticated grasp of astronomy during this period. They also discovered how to grow corn, beans, squash, and cassava in sometimes inhospitable environments; how to construct elaborate cities without the use of modern machinery; how to communicate with one another using one of the world’s first written languages; and how to measure time using not one, but two complicated calendar systems.

Astronomy played a huge role in Mayan life.

Beginning around 250 AD, the Classical Period was the golden age of the Mayan Empire. Classic Maya civilization reached nearly 40 cities and large populations, including Tikal, Uaxactún, Copán, Bonampak, Dos Pilas, Calakmul, Palenque, and Río Bec.

Excavations of Maya sites have unearthed plazas, palaces, temples, and pyramids. Supported by a large farming population, Mayan cities, although practicing a primitive “cut-and-burn” agriculture, also exhibited evidence of more advanced farming methods such as irrigation and terracing.

Many of the temples and palaces constructed by the Classic Maya had stepped pyramidal shapes, and they were ornamented with highly detailed reliefs and inscriptions. These structures have earned the Maya their reputation as the great artists of Mesoamerica.

Representation of a Maya astronomer with their eye outstretched. Photo: Wikipedia common

The use of the zero and the creation of intricate calendar systems like the Calendar Round, based on 365 days, and later the Long Count Calendar, intended to last more than 5,000 years, were among the many mathematical and astronomical innovations made by the Maya under the guided of their religious ritual.

The Maya built their temples and other holy buildings using their sophisticated knowledge of astronomy. For instance, the site of the pyramid at Chichén Itzá in Mexico is determined by the position of the sun at the spring and fall equinoxes. On these two days, the pyramid’s shadow at dusk coincides with a sculpture of the Mayan snake god’s head. The snake seems to crawl down into the Earth as the sun sets; the shadow serves as the serpent’s body.

Chichén Itzá Pyramid.

Surprisingly, the ancient Maya were able to construct complex temples and vast cities without the use of metal or the wheel, two things we would consider to be necessary building materials. They did, however, make use of a variety of other “new” inventions and technologies, particularly in the decorative arts. For instance, they created intricate looms for weaving fabric and created a variety of glittery paints using mica, a material that is still used in technology today.

Until recently, it was widely assumed that vulcanization—the process of mixing rubber with other materials to make it more durable—was developed in the nineteenth century by the American (from Connecticut) Charles Goodyear. Historians now believe that the Maya were manufacturing rubber items 3,000 years before Goodyear got his patent in 1843.

According to researchers, the Maya discovered this procedure by accident during a sacred rite in which they blended the rubber tree with the morning-glory plant. When the Maya discovered how durable and adaptable this new material was, they began to employ it in a number of ways, including the production of water-resistant fabric, adhesive, book bindings, figurines, and the giant rubber balls used in the ritual game known as pokatok.

The ancient people of Mesoamerica knew how to make rubber

Like many other great lost civilizations around the world, the Maya formalized their language into a codified writing system.

Similar to Ancient Egypt, their glyphs were utilized to express words, sounds, and syllables via the use of images and other symbols. Historians believe that the Mayans used around 800 glyphs to do this and, incredibly, 80% of their language can still be understood by their descendants today.

The Mayans also created a form of an early book that chronicled everyday life, news, the exploits of their gods, and many other things. Like every other sensible civilization, the Mayans were eager to record their history and accomplishments, even going so far as to jot down important occasions on pillars, walls, and enormous slabs of stone, much like the Ancient Egyptians and Romans did. Their books were written on bark and folded into fan-like structures.

The last two pages of the 'Paris Codex' are one of the few surviving Mayan books. Source: Bibliothèque Nacionale de France/Wikimedia Commons
The last two pages of the ‘Paris Codex‘ are one of the few surviving Mayan books. Source: Bibliothèque Nacionale de France/Wikimedia Commons

The Dresden Codex, the oldest surviving book written in the Americas, contains tables charting the movements of Venus, Mars, and the Moon. The Maya also calculated the occurrence of lunar eclipses based on observations and tracked the motion of Jupiter and Saturn.

Maya medicine was more advanced than one might think, and like other cultures, medicine was a mixture of religion and science.

The Mayans believed that imbalance and balance were the keys to good and bad health. Health and illness are correlated with balance. They held that a person’s diet, gender, and age were always determining factors in this. They knew about stitches and often used human hair to suture wounds. They also regularly made casts to speed the healing and recovery of fractures and other bone breakages.

By all accounts, they were particularly skilled at dentistry and used iron pyrite as tooth fillings. Mayan ‘witch doctors’ were also skilled in creating prosthetics made from jade and turquoise and used obsidian for making cuts.

Source: Adams, Richard E. W. (2005) [1977]. Prehistoric Mesoamerica (3rd ed.). Norman, Oklahoma: University of Oklahoma Press. 

Banner
Related Post

Fossil of a hominid child who died almost 250,000 years ago discovered in South Africa

8 November 2021

8 November 2021

A team of international and South African researchers uncovered the fossil remains of an early hominid kid who died almost...

The colored skeletons of Çatalhöyük provide insight into the burial rituals of a fascinating society that lived 9000 years ago

18 March 2022

18 March 2022

New research provides new insights into how the inhabitants of the “oldest city in the world” in Çatalhöyük (Turkey) buried...

The Stonehenge road tunnel is illegal, according to the High Court

23 June 2021

23 June 2021

The transport secretary’s decision to allow a road tunnel to be built near Stonehenge was unlawful, according to the high...

Paleonursery offers a detailed glimpse at life 518 million years ago

6 July 2021

6 July 2021

Fossilized specimens of thousands of undersea animals buried under a sedimentary avalanche 518 million years ago have been found near...

A new temple was discovered in the ancient Thracian city of Perperikon

17 August 2022

17 August 2022

Bulgarian News Agency (BTA) reports that archaeologists have discovered a new temple at Perperikon. Perperikon, an archaeological complex located at...

Mysterious Rods Found in 5,500-year-old Tomb identified to Be Earliest Drinking Straws

19 January 2022

19 January 2022

Russian archaeologists argue that the rods unearthed in an early bronze age tomb in the Caucasus are the oldest known...

An olive workshop dating back to the 6th century was found in the ancient city of Dara

16 February 2022

16 February 2022

An olive workshop dating back to the 6th century was unearthed in the ancient city of Dara, one of the...

1,800-year-old Roman remains discovered in valley of eastern Turkey

21 February 2022

21 February 2022

Roman remains dating back 1800 years have been found in a valley in eastern Turkey. Among the Roman ruins found...

Excavations in and around Yazıkaya, one of the monumental works of the Phrygians, start again after 71 years.

23 July 2022

23 July 2022

Archaeological excavations at Midas Castle in Yazılıkaya Midas Valley in the Han district of Eskişehir, located in northwest Turkey, will...

1-meter tall bronze statue found in China’s Sanxingdui Ruins-Video

17 June 2022

17 June 2022

Chinese archaeologists have discovered a 1-meter tall bronze statue at the site of ancient Sanxingdui ruins site in southwest China’s...

Excavation of the Temple of Athena Began in the Ancient City of Aigai

15 October 2021

15 October 2021

The foundations of the Temple of Athena were unearthed during the ongoing excavations in the ancient city of Aigai, located...

Vikings arrived in Newfoundland 1,000 years ago: Scientists

20 October 2021

20 October 2021

Vikings’ first permanent settlement in North America – the coastal outpost in Newfoundland known as L’Anse aux Meadows now has...

Temple of Zeus Lepsynos in Turkey regains its glory

9 May 2022

9 May 2022

The temple of Zeus in the ancient city of Euromos in southwestern Turkey regains its original splendor with the revitalization...

1400-year-old artifacts discovered in the ancient city of Uzuncaburç (Diocaesarea)

26 January 2022

26 January 2022

During the excavations carried out in a tower in the ancient city of Uzuncaburç (Diocaesarea) in Mersin province in the...

Millennia-Old İron Production Facilities Found in Iran

2 May 2021

2 May 2021

Archaeologists have uncovered many millennia-old iron manufacturing sites in a historical village in southcentral Iran. A local tourism official declared...

Comments
Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.