Blood sacrifice, Ritual beheadings, and games where the losing team captain is sacrificed to the gods, this is where my weekend started. No, not at the local parent/teacher association meeting. The domestic CEO and I went to the Minnesota Science Museum’s Maya Exhibit.
I have always been fascinated by the history and depth of this culture. Visiting the locations of these once powerful city-states has always been on my bucket list.
The juxtaposition of sheer intellect capable of tracking the stars and predicting celestial occurrences and the brutality of blood lettings and human sacrifice make this culture puzzling. The Mayan calendar and their pyramid-shaped temples are probably the most recognizable of the remains of this vast civilization that spanned from 1800 BC to 1450 AD..
However, their advances in medicine, dentistry, art, and agriculture remind us that this was a culture that supported tens of thousands of people without the benefit of ‘modern’ technology.
Two areas that really jumped out at me were the dental inlay work were gems and precious stones were placed into holes drilled into a person’s teeth using a simple bow-drill. Ouch! The part of the exhibit I found fascinating was a map that was created using laser photography from a low flying airplane to map the Maya city of Caracol in Belize. It revealed the existence of thousands of previously unknown roads, agricultural terraces and suburban housing settlements. The size of this city was awesome. The fact that the Mayans did not have horses or other means of travel other than by foot added to the magnitude of their way of life.
The two and a half hours we spent at the exhibit only fueled my desire to visit the actual sites. This trip has certainly moved up in priority on my bucket list.
From a writer’s viewpoint, the possibilities for story lines is truly endless. Obviously, historical fiction and fantasy are easy genres to leverage. However, so would romance, mystery and horror. Now I have to go back and watch, Mel Gibson’s action-adventure movie, “Apocalypto”, Just to see how the director recreated this marvelous culture.
In my next post, we’ll travel forward in time from the Mayans to the industrial revolution and my visit to a local festival that celebrates steam power.