The Mayan civilization have gone down in history for their ingenuity and their mystery. Having built one of the most developed empires in the world, the Mayans suddenly lost control of their land, disappearing in the blink of an eye. Why the population suddenly seemed to die out, few people know, but in their wake, the civilization might have left us behind a few clues as to why. While there are some mysteries that remain unsolved, parts of the puzzle have gradually slotted together and now, we know more than ever on the powerful civilization of South America.
- Life Force Ceremony
The Mayans had their own belief systems that were held in high esteem across the population. One of the most enduring was the fact that each person was born with a life force that nourished the gods. By ritually sacrificing their people, the Mayans believed they were effectively feeding their deities, helping to rejuvenate their powers. The life force ceremonies were incredibly gruesome, using parts of the viscera in order to get the task done. Often, these ceremonies involved cutting the genitals, earlobes and tongue and letting the blood flow freely out. The person’s life force would run out of them, released to the gods to give them strength.
- A Sustainable Future
The Mayans were no strangers to unpredictable weather systems and it wasn’t unusual for them to pass through prolonged seasons of drought. In order to survive during the dry season, they put in place a system to help preserve the little water that did come their way. As a way of storing water to use during the drought, the Mayans dug a series of paved reservoirs. The deep reservoirs could hold thousands of gallons of water, helping them to survive in the most simplistic and effective fashion.
- The Everyman
While much is spoken about the most influential of the Mayan people, very little focus is given to the everyman. It is, however, by looking at the “normal” people of the civilization that we can understand more about how they lived as a people. Digs in South America have shed more light on the subject, showing a glimpse into the Mayans’ everyday lives. The people were believed to have autonomous reign of their own land, given the freedom to practice their own religion, cultivate their own land and manage their own economy. The archaeological finds are some of the most contemporary ever discovered, pointing to an incredibly liberal mindset.
- Apocalyptic Change
While the intricate details of the Mayan apocalypse are still open for debate, more and more is being uncovered about their eventual downfall. Despite being a technologically advanced people, the Mayans could not control the weather entirely and many people believe it is natural forces that caused their decline. Throughout their reign, the Mayans were hit by two severe droughts that both lasted for decades at a time. Archaeologists suggest that it was due to this that the civilization eventually came to a standstill, with widespread destruction brought about as a result.
- Complex Communication
As well as being one of the most advanced civilizations in terms of technology, the Mayans were also paving the way for written communication at the time. New discoveries of hieroglyphs have suggested that the civilization could write in complex ways 150 years before previous evidence had suggested. While the ciphers are yet to be translated, they point to a complex communication method never seen before up until that point.