If you are interested in learning about the Mayan Civilization, this is a great place to start. The Anthropology and History Museum also called "Museo Regional de Antropología" has the best collection of Mayan artifacts and showcases the extraordinary culture and technological advances of the Mayas.
Palacio Canton, Paseo de Montejo at Calle 43
Phone: +52 (999) 923-0557
Entrance Fee: 41 pesos for foreigners. Free for Mexicans under 13 and over 60.
Video Camera: 45 pesos.
Open from 8 AM to 5 PM.
Plenty of roadside parking spaces available.
Remember: They are closed on Mondays!
Let us see some highlights as there are just too many artifacts to include everything in this blog. You can check the full video at the bottom if you want to see the virtual tour (26 minutes).
Sculpture of Chac Mool:
Chac Mool is a demi-god personality who is lying down, but his head is turned at right angle to his body. You can also see a circular plate carved on his belly, possibly for placing gifts or donations. This exquisite piece of sculpture wa carved between 800-900 A.D. Sadly, his original name remains unknown and he was named Chac Mool (meaning Red Claw in Mayan language) by the explorer August Le Plongeon.
Pok-a-Tok - The Ancient Mayan Ball Game:
The Mayan Ball Hoop is big enough for us to slip through it. The ancient Mayans played ball games and yes, they vulcanized rubber way before us. The game is very similar to modern day Basketball, but you could only use your legs, hips and butt to play. It was common to have a ball court in the Mayan palatial complex. For example, Chichen Itza has the ball court as big as a football field.
The museum displays a wide variety of Mayan Gods and most of them look eerily similar to astronauts. Now wonder alien theorists think that they must have come from another planet. Below, you can see one of them, with an incredible head gear (popped up?) and adorned with gadgets. Don't forget to note his rugged boots! On a side note, it is interesting to see how the Mayans felt about gods.They believed that humans were the perfection of God's creation. Gods were disappointed with their creation of animals, birds and reptiles.
Mayan Burial System:
Ancient Mayans believed that death was merely a beginning of a journey which proceeded into the underworld (dark, watery cenote) and then you could be reborn as a heavenly creature if you defeated the underworld deities. So, the death rituals were carefully prepared for this risky journey. The dead were buried with utensils and other items they would need. If he had pet dogs, they would be buried along with him.
Mathematical System of Mayas:
The Mayans represented numbers with dots and bars. Dot represents one and the bar represents five. Pretty simple eh? They also used a positioning system that goes bottom up . The numbers on the bottom were multiplied by 1 (confused?), the second line was multiplied by 20, and the third line was multiplied by 400 and so on. Simply put, the Mayans used base 20 also called vigesimal system. We use base 10 called decimal system. Click on the pictures below to learn Mayan math basics.
Mayan Mathematical System Using Base 20 (vigesimal system)
Other interesting details:
- The Mayans domesticated dogs and used them for hunting.
- They also grew honeybees for their honey.
- They imported and exported various items, including raw materials from other countries.
- Mayans had a complex system of writing which was developed before their classic period.
Above: Kukulkan Emerges Out of The Serpent's Mouth
Below: Virtual tour of Anthropology and History Museum: