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Maya - a group of Indian peoples who created a civilization in Central America with a fairly developed art, architecture, writing (the Maya books were mostly destroyed by the Spanish conquerors, but some of them, in particular the "Dresden Code" and "Chilam balam", have come down to our days). The Maya created an original farming system, and developed some sciences (for example, astronomy) quite successfully.
The period from 2000 BC is considered the beginning of the formation of civilization. e. up to 250 AD e., it reached its peak in 250-900 years. (it was then that most cities were built and populated). But, starting from the 9th century, the Mayan civilization began to decline - the population was declining, people were leaving the cities, water supply and communications systems became unusable, etc.
Today, the Mayan heritage attracts the close attention of many scientists, and UNESCO has declared their cities (Tikal, Quirigua, Copan, Palenque, Chichen Itzu, Uxmal and Hoya de Seren) as World Heritage Sites.
The Maya are an exclusively land-based people who lived in seclusion and did not travel much. Misconception. Firstly, the Maya Indians were good sailors (unlike the Incas, Aztecs and other peoples of America, who practically did not sail). Most often, their canoes (sometimes accommodating up to 40 passengers) cruised off the coast of the Gulf of Mexico or in the waters of the Caribbean Sea, which is very dangerous for sailors. Such canoes (2.5 m wide, containing, in addition to 25 rowers, a considerable load of goods (copper, cocoa, swords with flint and obsidian blades, fabric), which the Maya planned to exchange for crystal and feathers of green parrots) Christopher Columbus met on July 30, 1502 on Guanaja (one of the eastern islands of Islas de la Bahia), located 35 kilometers from the mainland. Secondly, they traveled a lot by land. The sakbeob (ceremonial roads) system was recognized as the best in America at the time. In addition, according to custom, the traveler was under the protection of the gods, and could travel unhindered even through the territory of hostile tribes, since immediate death was due for harming a merchant or pilgrim.
Maya often made bloody human sacrifices. Some researchers argue that the Maya Indians actually used sacrifices to appease the gods. Moreover, people at the same time experienced incredible torment - for example, when a living person was ripped out of the heart, skinned from it, thrown into a sacred karst well (cenote), left to freeze in ice caves, or eaten alive. Others believe that the victim did not experience any torment, since she was under the influence of drugs. In addition, there is an opinion that the Mayans rarely made bloody human sacrifices, unlike the Aztecs, Olmecs, etc.
The Maya wrote books. There is no consensus among researchers on this score. Some believe that the Maya were only the keepers of books, created by someone unknown, but they were no longer able to reproduce or read hundreds of volumes neatly folded in the book depositories in all the cities of Yucatan at the time of the arrival of the Spaniards. Others believe that the Maya could not only read ancient manuscripts containing information from various branches of science and telling about historical events, cataclysms (hurricanes, floods, earthquakes), about the life of leaders and commoners for at least the last 800 years, but also continued to make new folios. Mayan books, which were 20-23 cm high, about 10 cm wide, and the total page length - 320 m, were a number of white glossy paper sheets made from the bast fibers of the ficus tree. These sheets were folded "accordion" and covered with columns of hieroglyphs. They painted with brushes, and used not only black, but also blue, green, yellow, brown and various shades of red. Then the sheets were placed between two beautifully painted boards, and neatly fastened together. There are mentions that such books were produced in Peten (Tayasal) in 1679. And finally, there is a third version - the first books appeared among the Mayan Indians around 889 AD.
Only the Mayans had books, the rest of the American Indians did not make such records. Aztecs, Totonacs, Mixtecs, etc. had books and scattered records of various contents. However, the Maya, apparently, began to record and formalize it in the form of books earlier than anyone else, and continued to make literary monuments for 800 years.
Maya paper was used only for making books. This is not true. The bark paper, called huong, was so strong and elastic that it was used not only for creating books, drawing construction plans and drawing drawings that would later be engraved on steles, but also for making some types of clothing in those days when weaving for the Indians was is still unknown. And even after the Maya learned to weave more durable and comfortable materials from cotton and linen, the vestments of the priests were often made of paper.
The Maya had their own calendar - the Tzolkin. In fact, the Maya had 3 calendars. The first is the haab, the "civil" solar calendar, dividing the year into 18 months of 20 days (they were numbered from 0 to 19). At the end of each year there was a period of 5 "unlucky" or "empty" days (wyeb). The second is the sacred Mayan calendar Tzolkin or Tzolkin, according to which the year was divided into 260 days. Moreover, the Toltecs and Aztecs used the same calendar. And the third calendar, called "long count", counted the time (from days (kin), years (tuns - 360 days) to the so-called alautuns (64,000,000 tuns or 63,123,287 years 245 days)) from the "beginning of time "(date corresponding to 31,111 BC).
The Mayan pyramids were built by another, more highly developed civilization. On this issue, there is a very fierce debate in scientific circles. Some believe that both the pyramids and all the things found on the territory of the temple complexes were made by skilled Mayan artisans (although this took a lot of time, perhaps several centuries). Others argue that some finds (for example, an obsidian disk of a perfectly round shape, jade tubes with a wall thickness of no more than 1 mm, spiral cylinders of stone, etc.) could not be made without special tools and technologies that the Maya Indians ( judging by other archaeological finds) were not known. Another proof of the existence of a technically advanced civilization, researchers consider small golden amulets, which were part of the vestments of the priests and strikingly resemble modern airplanes.
Maya left their cities due to war or epidemic. Scientists have not come to a consensus on this issue. Some believe that the Mayan cities were abandoned due to climate change. This theory is supported by the results of recent studies of the so-called. "Bajo" or lakes located in limestone rocks (it is near such lakes that most of the abandoned Mayan cities are located) and are filled with water only for 4 months a year (it should be noted that there are no other sources of water in the district). It turned out that in ancient times the Baggios were small lakes with clear water. But climate change between 400 BC. AD (caused, in particular, by deforestation around cities) led to the fact that the lakes began to periodically dry up.
Other researchers explain the departure of the Maya from their homes by unknown diseases. However, many scientists refute this theory, pointing out the absence of a large number of human remains indicating the extinction of an entire people, as well as any written or oral mention of a general epidemic. Instead, experts offer other hypotheses: the disappearance of civilization as a result of hostilities or destructive cataclysms (for example, a tsunami of unprecedented force that swept through the territory inhabited by the Maya Indians). To confirm their theory, they refer to books that mention the "global flood" and the results of the study of some cities (for example, Teotihuacan), which were literally buried under a layer of clay.
Their opponents argue that the war (quite familiar to the Maya due to constant civil strife and clashes with neighboring tribes) could hardly have caused the disappearance of an entire people, and the departure was simply to relocate people from the northern regions to the southern ones. This opinion is opposed by the theory that there was no resettlement, since both northern and southern cities existed at the same time. And the Indians left them due to the decline of culture, typical for many countries of the world. Indeed, only certain segments of the population lived in the cities, while the bulk of the people lived in huts erected near cultivated fields, in forests, etc. According to researchers, when the population of cities (who lived and enriched themselves from taxes levied on farmers) for economic reasons was left without a livelihood, it simply left the "megacities" and returned to a simple rural life.
The Maya people have completely disappeared. Maya can also be found in El Salvador and Honduras.
The Maya were tall. The second bishop of Yucatan, the Spaniard Diego de Landa Calderón, spoke of the Maya as "tall people". However, it should be noted that at that time the average height of a European was about 152 cm (although there were people whose height was 180 cm and above). And the average height of the Mayan is about 156 cm, which, combined with a strong body, gave the impression of a tall and powerful opponent.
Squint-eyed people with a flat head were considered beautiful Maya. It really is. Squint was considered the first sign of beauty (many deities, for example, Itzamna, the God of heaven, were depicted with slanting eyes). Caring mothers, wishing to give the eyes of children "beauty and divinity", tied a ball of clay or resin to their hair so that it was located in front of the child's eyes.
The shape of the head also had to comply with certain canons. According to legends, the first owners of the land (which from 2000 BC became the property of the Maya) were tribes of people with "long heads". The Maya were brachycephalic (or brachycephalic, translated from Greek - "short-headed"). However, neither one nor the other head shape was considered an ideal. According to the Maya, in order to look beautiful and noble, a person must have a flat head. In order to give the skull exactly this shape, immediately after the birth of the child, it was placed in a specially equipped cradle, where the head was fixed in a special way. Particularly zealous in the family of the Mayan head of state were the khalach uinika ("real man", "legitimate man"), whose position was inherited. And if among commoners the shape of the head was dictated not only by aesthetic, but also by purely practical considerations (it is convenient to carry weights on a head of such a shape, which is very important in the absence of pack animals), then the shape of the skull of the halach uinik was just an attempt to bring it as close as possible to the appearance of deities ... After all, it was the gods, according to legends, who had flat heads, and taught the Maya the technique of flattening skulls.
The size and shape of the nose also mattered - a long hooked nose was considered ideal. During the ceremonies, the Mayan leaders not only decorated themselves with tattoos, jewelry and lush clothes, but also paid a lot of attention to changing the shape of their nose, using putty for this.
Maya rarely married for love. The fact is that, even knowing the power of romantic love, the Maya still preferred to create families traditionally, i.e. through the matchmaker (ah atantsakhob). The Indians were very superstitious about marriage, fearing the desecration of the union (bringing not only the couple, but the whole family of husband and wife innumerable calamities) more than life with an unloved spouse (wife). Therefore, according to tradition, a man considered it beneath his dignity to look for a wife on his own, entrusting this difficult matter to a matchmaker (who, as an intermediary, could protect the marriage from desecration). Sometimes the parents (fathers) agreed that their newly born children would create a family upon reaching marriageable age (for a man - 18 years, for a woman - 14 years). This decision determined their further relationship - even before marriage, by agreement, families communicated with each other like relatives.
Before marriage, the Maya did not engage in sexual intercourse. Both men and women were not required to keep their virginity before marriage. For example, young men, according to the custom of painting their bodies with black paint before marriage, gathered in a special house, open from all sides, where they entertained themselves, playing various games, and could also satisfy their carnal passion using the services of guatepol (women who provide sexual services for a fee).
There is almost no sexuality in Mayan art. This point of view was expressed by Aldous Huxley, and believed that the reason for this was the low level of nervous excitability and the lack of sexual fantasy among the Indians. But in order to be convinced of the inconsistency of this hypothesis, it is enough to visit Uxmal (a city in one of the regions of Yucatan, called Puuk), where the facades of buildings are decorated with sculptural images of naked men, made very realistic, and in front of the palace of the ruler and throughout the region there are many phallic characters.
The Maya Indians had several names. The Mayans had 4 names: naal kaba (the name given after marriage and consisting of the father's surnames and the mother's maiden name), patronymic, coco kaba (nickname) and paal kaba (personal name given at birth). It was the personal name that was the most significant, only close people knew it, and was rarely used, since it was believed that from frequent use the name wears out and loses its strength. And the power of the name played a very important role, for example, in the cure of certain diseases, giving strength to the patient and efficiency - the manipulations of the healer. The choice of the name was not random. First, the mother of the child was sure to check the horoscope (and not the time of birth was taken into account, but the time of conception), choosing the best day for the naming ceremony. Secondly, the names were created according to a certain scheme. Paal kaba men had the prefix Ah- (Ah-Kukum - "Feather", Ah-Balam - "Jaguar"), women - Ish-, and naal kaba had the prefix Nah-.
Maya pottery is an exclusively male occupation. In many countries of the world (in Ancient Greece, Egypt, America), pottery became a male occupation only after the potter's wheel was invented. Before that, only women were engaged in the manufacture and painting of ceramic dishes. And not only among the Mayans. For a long time, pottery was an exclusively female occupation in the countries of Africa, Melanesia, Peru, etc.
During the ball game, the losing team was sacrificed.Some researchers fully agree with this point of view, while others believe that since death was the fastest way for the Maya Indians to see previously deceased ancestors and contemplate living gods, the winning team was killed. In addition to this "award" there were other prizes for winning. For example, a person hitting the ring with a ball could take away clothes and jewelry from all spectators present at the playground. It should be noted that getting into the ring was not so easy. Firstly, the ring itself, which had the shape of a millstone, decorated with various images and located vertically (and not horizontally, as in basketball), was suspended at a height of 11 m.Secondly, in order to direct the ball, the player could only use his hips, shoulders or elbows (but not hands).
Maya slaves were prisoners captured in the course of hostilities. Yes it is. In addition, slavery was a punishment for theft (unless the thief's relatives agreed to pay the cost of the stolen) committed for the first time (for repeated theft, the punishment was death). Also, in some cases, the tribes that were subordinate to the Mayans could send in the form of tribute not only goods, but also slaves. This is how she got to the Maya Malinche (Malineli Tenepatl, whom the Spaniards called Dona Marina), who later became the translator and concubine of Cortes. She was sold into slavery by her mother, who had remarried and felt that it was not fitting for her daughter to live next to her and her young husband.
The Maya Indians treated slaves well. Despite the fact that the slaves were often prisoners of war or criminals, they treated them calmly and friendly, in some cases equating them even with family members. However, it should be remembered that, firstly, it was the slaves who performed the most difficult and dirty work, and secondly, when the time came to make sacrifices to the gods, it was the slaves who were killed in the first place.