December 21, 2012.
And the world still lives on.
The Mayans were a highly civilised people and excelled from art to architecture, mathematics to astronomy, simple living to high thinking. The Mayans can be credited for their knowledge of medicine, space, calculations and predictions.
Fact 1: 2600 BC the Mayans lived in the midst of scenic lowlands, volcanic mountains and evergreen plateaus, now from southern Mexico, covering Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Costa Rica. Mayan centres in their city states include Palenque, Tikal, Copan, Tulum, Chechen Itza.
Fact 2: They had no central king. The area was divided into 20 states for easy administration. Women ruled too. ‘Mah kina’ was the title given to the highest leader. The priests were next to the leader in the hierarchy. The Mayans were farmers too. There is evidence of Mayans building underground reservoirs to store rain water in places of ground water to facilitate agriculture.
Fact 3: Carvings on stone and in wood portrayed the Mayan way of living. Metal was used mainly for making ornaments. The rulers ordered many inscriptions which conveyed their achievements and immortalised them. The Hieroglyphic Stairway at Copan is the epitome of the Mayan art. The Mayan descendants still speak Mam, Cakchiquel, Qhuche and Kekchi.
Fact 4: The Mayans had good roads and also created trade routes. They were potters and weavers. Their cities were built around a central structure like temples, palaces, and also in such a manner as to avoid floods. The Mayans were excellent mathematicians too. They used dots and bars to represent numbers. The Mayans built many architecturally tasteful temples with intricate carvings of statues and on stone.
Fact 5: The Mayan writing is called the glyph and it used around 700 – 800 symbols of humans, animals, objects and abstract designs. It remains one of the more difficult writings to decipher. They created books that could fold and contained information on medicine, history, astronomy and religion.
Fact 6: The Mayans believed in more than 165 gods. They believed in heaven for the gods, the earth for the living and an underworld or the Place of Awe for the demons. They believed in sacrifices of animals and humans to appease the gods. Women did not look into mirrors to avoid being pulled into the underworld.
Fact 7: The Mayan predicted events that have actually come true. The 9/11 attack, Japan’s earthquake, the distance between the stars and the planets with an accuracy of 99.45%, the fact that the sun spots were actually tornados, a total solar eclipse in 1999, were all predicted with precision. They also knew of the black hole in the centre of our galaxy, which they called ‘Hunab Ku’.
Facts 8: The Mayan calendar was very accurate and fascinating. It was drawn up in the 5th century BC. They had three calendars- the Long Count ( also called the Universal cycle, tracked time in cycles of very long duration), the Tzolkin (meant the distribution of days) and the Haab ( which had 18 months and exactly 365 days in a year).
Fact 9: The prediction of the world coming to an end on the 21st December, 2012 was not true. The Mayan calendar completed its cycle on this day. Hence it was thought as the end of the world.
Fact 10: The Mayans believed in spirits and learnt the art of Black Magic. They were in communion with other species like the aliens. They also had great medical knowledge and are believed to have invented the first birth control pill, a mixture of a leaf and some flower.