If you are fascinated by history, the Royal Ontario Museum’s latest exhibition, Maya: Secrets of their Ancient World, is a must see. Featuring nearly 250 artifacts, including large sculptures, ceramics, masks, and jewellery, these objects reveal numerous aspects of Maya culture, which until recently had been shrouded in mystery. Here are a just a few of secrets of Maya life revealed at the exhibition:
1. Sports Games in Jungle Cities – One thing you’ll discover about the Maya is a ritual that is very familiar to us today: sporting events! Ball games were an important part of religious life in Maya cities. The ball game was played by two opposing teams whose members used their legs, hips, and elbows to pass a rubber ball from one end of the court to another. Likely the earliest team sport in the world, the game had deep ritual significance. This figure depicts one of the players.
2. Maya Glyphs
Maya writing, or glyphs as they are more simply called, baffled explorers and researchers for almost five centuries since they were re-discovered. The first Europeans who visited Classic Period Maya ruins were amazed by the beautiful writing that covered the walls of cities abandoned in the jungles, but they could only guess at their meaning. Try decoding Maya glyphs for yourself at the ROM! The exhibition features panels inscribed with glyphs, like this one:
3. The end of days legend
As we flipped our calendars to 2012 this January 1st, talk of the Maya end of days legend popped up everywhere. The ancient Maya predicted the end of the world on December 23, 2012. Or, did they? The ROM’s exhibit brings the Maya calendar to life, and will help ease some worries about the significance of 2012.
Traveling to Toronto from out of town? Some local hotels have gotten into the spirit with special Maya: Secrets of their Ancient World hotel packages, including the Delta Chelsea and The Fairmont Royal York.
The exhibition runs at the ROM until April 9th, 2012. Find ticket info here.