6 Ancient Maya Ruins to Explore

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRIP TRIVIA)

 

6 Ancient Maya Ruins to Explore

The Maya civilization dates back to 2600 BC and lasted over 3,000 years, leaving behind a legacy of amazing agricultural, architectural and scientific achievements. One of the longest lasting pieces of this legacy are the incredible structures and monuments that still exist today. Here are six ancient Maya ruins you can explore. It’s also worth noting that the term “Mayan” is generally used only to refer to the language. “Maya” refers to the people and cultures that make up the complex and diverse indigenous population.

Tikal, Guatemala

Credit: cnicbc / iStock

Tikal, thought to be the capital of the Maya civilization, is located deep in the Guatemalan jungle. Because it is centered in such a lush environment and has been unoccupied for centuries, archaeologists estimate that only about 25 percent of the ruins have been uncovered. However, the ruins that have been revealed are stunning. They include six massive temples, some of which are over 200 feet tall. Be prepared for a crowd, however. Despite the location’s remote jungle location, the site draws over 100,000 visitors every year.

Uxmal, Mexico

Credit: Markus Faymonville / iStock

This UNESCO World Heritage Site is home to the Pyramid of the Magician, a massive monument that was built in multiple stages. In fact, Uxmal means “thrice-built” and is a reference to the long process of erecting the pyramid. At the height of its occupancy, Uxmal was the largest population center on the Yucatan Peninsula. It covers over 50 acres, and the pyramid isn’t the only impressive ruin on the premises: The famed Governor’s Palace is larger than a football field and has the largest façade of any structure in pre-Colombian Mesoamerica.

Tulum, Mexico

Credit: traveler1116 / iStock

Many Maya ruins are deep in the jungle, which makes them hard to access and susceptible to being reclaimed by the vegetation that slowly consumes everything in its path. That is not the case with Tulum, however, which is located on the beautiful Caribbean coastline, about 100 miles south of Cancun, Mexico. Tulum was one of the last large Maya settlements to be built and was constructed as recently as 1200 AD. As a result, the many limestone temples that remain are well-preserved and make an excellent destination to explore.

Xunatunich, Belize

Credit: pxhidalgo / iStock

This often-overlooked ruin, which lies about 70 miles west of Belize City, is well worth the journey. It features six plazas and over 26 structures. This includes the El Castillo of Belize, which is the second-highest structure in Belize. Xunatunich was a civic ceremonial center during an era when 200,000 Maya lived in the area now known as Belize.

Copan, Honduras

Credit: benedek / iStock

Copan is one of the oldest known cities of the Maya world, having been first occupied in 1500 BC. It is in Honduras near the Guatemalan border and is home to many altars and monoliths. There are five full plazas, one of which, the Hieroglyphic Stairway Plaza, features the longest known Maya inscription, with over 1,800 glyphs.

Chichen Itza, Mexico

Credit: JoselgnacioSoto / iStock

No list of Maya ruins would be complete without Chichen Itza. Chichen Itza is considered one of the seven “New Wonders of the World” and is in the heart of Mexico. Chichen Itza features the famous El Castillo, a 98-foot-high temple built between the 9th and 12th centuries. El Castillo is not only an impressive monument but is a testament to the advanced understanding of astronomy the Maya possessed. The sides of the pyramid are aligned in such a way that during the autumn and spring equinoxes the shadow cast by the mid-afternoon sun creates the appearance of a snake crawling down the side of the structure. Chichen Itza is home to Cenate Segrado, a place of worship and sacrifice for the Maya, and the Great Ball Court, the largest ball court of ancient Mesoamerica.

The Maya weren’t the only civilization to leave behind incredible ruins that you can still explore. Read more from us about the ancient world, from all corners of the globe.

4 forgotten (but important) ancient civilizations

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRIVIA GENIUS)

 

History

4 forgotten (but important) ancient civilizations

The history of humankind is incomplete without honoring some of our ancestral elders. Civilizations move forward and evolve when we work together to solve the challenges and problems of the day. The practice of living in groups with mutual respect and reliance on one another triggered the metamorphosis of isolated groups to large communities, to societies, and finally to civilizations.

The world has since witnessed the rise and fall of several great civilizations. Some ancient civilizations stand out more than others in terms of their enduring influence, power, reach, and lasting contributions to human development. Many ancient civilizations are lost to time, decay, and the lack or loss of historical written chronicles. However, four forgotten but important ancient civilizations serve as a testament to the human spirit, inspiration, and the grace of time.

The Mesopotamian civilization

Credit: espaliu / iStock

Historical location: Sumer in southern Mesopotamia and the land between rivers (ancient Greece)

Present-day location: Turkey, Iraq, and Syria

Major highlights: First known civilization in the world

Timeline: 3500 BC–500 BC

Why the Mesopotamian civilization is important

The concept of urbanization first started with this civilization. Mesopotamia remains the source of the largest set of ancient artifacts, knowledge, and writings. It was the first city built with sun-dried bricks. History records three significant contributions by the Mesopotamian civilization: the invention of the wheel, large-scale agriculture, and the present-day number system technology based on 60.

The Indus Valley civilization

Credit: gueterguni / iStock

Historical location: The basin of the Indus river

Present-day location: Northeast Afghanistan to Pakistan and northwest India

Major highlights: One of the most widespread civilizations

Timeline: 3300 BC–1900 BC

Why the Indus Valley civilization is important

Thanks to the Indus Valley, or Harappa, civilization, the present world has many things that we take for granted. Their people’s expertise and development of water management systems, drainage methods, town planning, and harvesting practices remain incomparable. Despite the fact that it was one of the earliest civilizations with a huge land mass, the Harappa civilization arose independently.

The Ancient Egyptian civilization

Credit: sculpies / iStock

Historical location: Nile River banks

Present-day location: Egypt

Major highlights: Construction of pyramids

Timeline: 3150 BC–30 BC

Why the Ancient Egyptian civilization is important

Egyptian civilization is widely known and respected based on their artifacts, construction acumen, inventions, art, pharaohs, and culture. Sometimes called the Kemet or Black Land civilization, the ancient Egyptians looked to the heavens and cultivated stargazing into a practical science. Egyptian astronomers used their knowledge to predict many things, such as when to expect the flooding of the Nile and the correct time to sow seeds and harvest.

Ancient Egyptians were also great mathematicians. They expanded the understanding of mathematics and geometry by building the Pyramids. This serves as an enduring tribute to not only the Egyptian kings and queens but also to their engineering prowess.

The Maya civilization

Credit: Starcevic / iStock

Historical location: Around the Yucatan Peninsula

Present-day location: Campeche, Yucatan, Tabasco, Quintana, and Chiapas in Mexico and passing through Belize, Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador

Major highlights: Advanced knowledge of astronomy and calendar creation

Timeline: 2600 BC–900 AD

Why the Maya civilization is important

The Maya civilization dominated the Mesoamerican societies of the era. Their distinguished achievements include three accurate calendars. In addition, they are widely respected for their writing system, flourishing trade route, and engraved stone architecture. In order to sustain a viable food supply, the Mayans fostered crop cultivation of beans, vegetables, and maize. There is evidence of their domestication of dogs and turkeys during this time.

We share a modern-day connection and knowledge with those that have come before us. They laid the foundations that we have the privilege to magnify, improve, and create our own legacies from.

Two Undisturbed Tombs Of Mayan ‘Snake Kings’ Unearthed in Guatemala

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF GOOGLE + HISTORY)

Remarkable Secret Tombs of Maya Snake Kings Reveal Fascinating Story

Remarkable Secret Tombs of Maya Snake Kings Reveal Fascinating Story

(Read the article on one page)

Archeologists have unearthed two un-looted Maya tombs in the Holmul ruins of Guatemala. The discoveries within the tombs connect with previous artifacts, and shed light on the famous story of influential Maya kings, whose symbol was a snake head.

The tombs were discovered 300 miles (482 km) north of Guatemala City at the archaeological site and ancient Maya city of Holmul. Both tombs date to between 650 – 700 AD, when the Pre-Columbian civilization dominated these lands, and just before it fell. Guatemala played a very important part of Maya history, however, there remain many mysteries, such as why the civilization collapsed. Researchers believe excavations of the many Maya ruins may be the key to unlocking the hidden history.

According to The Guardian , the tombs “miraculously escaped” looters’ tunnels underneath two Maya pyramids. Moreover, at the site they discovered jade-inlaid teeth, an inscribed human tibia and a puzzling, sun-god pendant.

Inside one of the tombs was found a puzzling artifact of a Maya dynasty called ‘The Snake Kings’ due to their emblem. The snake head was a symbol of the family that ruled for several generations about 100 miles (161 km) to north from the tombs in Holmul. This family of ‘snake kings’ warred with another rival family.

Tombs Filled with Rare Finds

One of the tombs was built into a pyramid, which was constructed to cover and surround the building from the fifth century AD. It contained the preserved skeleton of a middle-aged person with teeth inlays made of jade. Archaeologists were surprised to also discover what they believe is a human tibia bone with inscriptions carved into it.

Archaeologist Francisco Estrada-Belli of Boston University told the Guardian that the inscribed bone is ‘a very, very rare find” and the skeleton “could be from and ancestor or captive of war”. Tooth inlays suggest that the tomb may have belonged to someone from an elite family, as such tooth adornment was custom among Maya royalty, reports ScienceAlert.com

Estrada-Belli believes that epigraphical analysis on the bone will bring even more information.

Pyramid Temple E in Nakum, Petén, Guatemala; Representational image only.

Pyramid Temple E in Nakum, Petén, Guatemala; Representational image only. ( CC BY-SA 4.0 )

The second tomb, which was discovered in a separate pyramid, also contained the skeletal remains of a middle-aged person. This tomb was decorated with jade artifacts and various vessels. What was most significant was the discovery of a ‘war trophy’ — a jade pendant with an inscription stating that it belongs to a far-away king.

The impressive jade artifact contains the name of a snake king, making it the first discovery of this kind. The inscription reads “Yuknoom Ti’ Chan, Holy king of Kaanul.” It is known that this king was a member of the mysterious dynasty, and its presence in a tomb so far from their region suggests their influence stretched farther than previously thought.

A jade Serpent Head Pendant; representational image only. Mexico, Chiapas or Guatemala, Maya, A.D. 200-900

A jade Serpent Head Pendant; representational image only. Mexico, Chiapas or Guatemala, Maya, A.D. 200-900 (LACMA/ Public Domain )

The tombs also contained also a conch shell that had been made into a scribal ink pot and artifacts made of obsidian, ceramics, shells, and jade.

The discoveries can be partly compared to the ones made on another site in Guatemala – Tikal, where the researchers found a similar carved bone that bore inscriptions of the name of a captured warrior. Rosemary Joyce, an anthropologist at UC Berkeley, who was not involved in the excavation, claimed the bones should be examined by anthropologists before confirming it is human or an animal bone.

Discovery of a Maya Mountain Spirit

The ancient site in Holmul, in the Petén Basin is one of the most fascinating places, and excavations have delighted researchers with many rich discoveries over the years. April Holloway from Ancient Origins reported in 2013 on the discovery of a massive Maya frieze at the same site:

“Archaeologists have discovered a giant Maya frieze in the buried city of Holmul in the Peten Basin region of Guatemala. It depicts a mythological setting with a ruler sitting atop the head of a Maya mountain spirit.

The frieze, which measures 8 meters by 2 meters (26 feet by 6.5 feet), is one of the best preserved examples of its kind. There are even traces of red, blue, green, and yellow paints still visible, and there are no missing parts to it, only a small faded corner which is close to the surface.”

The Maya frieze in excellent condition.

The Maya frieze in excellent condition. (Francisco Estrada-Belli photo/Nola.com)