Mesoamerica and the Majestic Maya

Tuned in for adventure: Heart, Magic Man

Mesoamerica is the region that stretches from central Mexico to northern Honduras. In ancient times, it was home to some highly developed civilizations like the Olmec and the Maya. These civilizations prospered until the arrival of the Spanish in the 16th century.

Some interesting facts about the Mesoamericans: Like the Egyptians and other ancient cultures, they believed in life after death. They buried their dead with vases, jewelry, and toys they thought were needed in the afterlife. The Mayans believed that ordinary people (hey, that’s me. I definitely was not born with a gleaming tiara on my head) went to the underworld when dead (sounds enchanting), but when kings die they went to heaven (of course) and were reborn as kings in another world (doesn’t seem fair to me, but the ball of chaos delivers a peculiar slant on fairness. Ask anyone born into slavery). When rich people died they were buried under their own homes (possibly a felony today) and the lucky kings had elaborate tombs built for them.

Due to an upcoming trip to the Mayan city of Chichen Itza in the Yucatán peninsula in Mexico (recently named one of the New Seven Wonders of the World), I have an interest in the Maya. They took the study of astronomy and mathematics much further than the Olmecs. They built huge observatories to study the stars. They were excellent artists and built grand palaces and ceremonial platforms. The huge stepped pyramid called Kukulcan, after the serpent-god, Quetzalcoatl, or also known as El Castillo (Spanish for castle) is in harmony with the Mayan solar calendar. The Maya also made tools and weapons from volcanic glass.

The best fact for me is that the Maya discovered cocoa. They loved to drink hot cocoa even in their warm climate. They believed that cocoa was a gift from the god Quetzalcoatl (a thoughtful gift indeed) and that it had healing properties as well. The beverage was shared during betrothal and marriage ceremonies, supplying one of the first links we know between chocolate and romance. Today, many enjoy chocolate delights from this luscious bean.

In addition to the grandeur of this ancient place and people, we also have the bonus of a savory confection that is difficult to resist (at least for me). It is not surprising why the Maya were connected to the sun, moon, stars and heavens.

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About cinzia8

Published writer and teacher.
This entry was posted in Happenings—Posts. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Mesoamerica and the Majestic Maya

  1. Dede Frank says:

    Dear Cinzia8 ~ I found your commentary especially interesting because I am in the mortuary science field and we share these things with our students! 🙂

    Like

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