Mysteries of the Maya Civilization
The history of the Mayan civilization remains shrouded in mystery. But science has learned that many of the secrets - no more than a myth. Michael Shapiro destroys the legends - a representative of the international publishing house National Geographic.
1. The civilization suddenly disappeared
Just as the fall of the Roman Empire did not mean an end to the existence of the Roman citizens, and the disappearance of the Maya state, which reached peak its development in the IX century BC, does not imply that indigenous people have disappeared without a trace.
Today, approximately 40% of the population of Guatemala, about 14 million people living in southern Mexico and the Yucatan Peninsula are descendants of the Maya peoples.
Civilization stoically endured five centuries of Spanish occupation, while maintaining cultural traditions, age-old agrarian lifestyle and the custom of celebrating festivals.
More than 20 Guatemalan provinces inhabited by the individual peoples of this ancient civilization. Each of them has its own culture, language and clothes. For thousands of years, the Maya live outside of their empire.
2. Maya did not believe in the end of the world
In movies about the apocalypse, we say that the Maya predicted the end of the world December 21, 2012. This point is accounted for 5000 year on the Mayan calendar. But this is not true.
Representatives of the ancient civilization celebrated the beginning of the next cycle, which will come in 5125 year, as we celebrated the new millennium. Not found any record evidencing about the end of times. In any case, they had hoped that a new era of mankind has entered an era of higher consciousness, peace, and a deep understanding of other peoples living in the land.
3. The ancient Maya invented the concept of zero
Mayan Calendar is based on the calculation of the value of zero. However, the idea of zero is probably not the mystery of the Mayan civilization. It originated in Babylon. And only in IV century BC this invention came to be associated with the Mayan peoples.
Zero in a letter of civilization was represented by the symbol, like a sink. Numerical system is based on 20 factors. They consisted of the number of full units 1, 20, 400, etc. In order to write, for example, the number 403, the unit 400 is used, plus four units 20, and three units 1.
4. Mayan peoples invented sauna
This is really a mystery of the Mayan civilization, the existence of which is difficult to argue. The ancient people used stone caves as saunas, known as the "Timescale" on the Yucatan Peninsula. Mayan saunas, «sweathouse», are still popular holiday destination among tourists. They offer guests the hotels and resorts worldwide.
Ancient cities Mayan peoples were built by using adobe - mud. They were used for spiritual satisfaction and health. Steam is made by mixing water with fire. Sometimes water is added to the leaves. Sweat cleanses the skin and mind.
5. Mayan people crossed the whitewater’s rivers by boat
Mystery of the civilization on the construction of reliable rafts has long been uncovered. In Guatemala are the best conditions for the first-class boating Rio Kahabon. During the trip, you can get a lot of impressions and become acquainted with the area where the ancient people lived, - the jungle on the banks of the river.
Usumacinta River passes through the border of Mexico and Guatemala. While walking along the river the group stops to explore the ruins of Piedras Negros.
6. Mayan pyramids are built based on astronomical events
It's no secret that the people of this civilization understood in astronomy. Many facilities such as El Castillo (The Temple of Kukulcan) and the pyramid at Chichen Itza represent astronomical events.
This mystery of the Mayan civilization relates the story of the people from the neighboring country - ancient Egypt. During equinox, along the northern verge of Kukulcan is the passing shadow, like a snake. This phenomenon is caused by the passage of the sun beam through nine building terraces.
Temple of El Caracole in Chichen Itza is known as observatory, associated with the orbit of Venus. The main staircase is directed to the north of Venus, and the corners of the building correspond to the position of the sun at the summer solstice on the sunrise and to the winter solstice on the sunset.
7. Mayan Empire was destroyed by a volcano
Several volcanoes in Guatemala remain active. In the city of Antigua Guatemala, you can witness the eruption of the volcano Fuego, which overthrows columns of smoke. It is especially great spectacle at night. Not far from Antigua, approximately 1.5 hours’ drive, there is Roseau volcano which erupts regularly for several years.
In Antigua organized by the sale of one-day tours for walking a few meters away from the lava.
8. No one knows what caused the decline of the Mayan civilization
Since the end of VIII century and at the beginning of the IX century BC Mayan city was derelict. People have died or gone to other places. Culture, highly organized irrigation, agriculture, astronomy and construction equipment have been forgotten. Why, no one knows the answer.
Scientists have several hypotheses about the loss of the ancient civilization of:
• Confrontation between the city-states.
• Overpopulation, which resulted in environmental degradation, soil depletion and climate change.
• The growing influence of the ruling class, the clergy and the ruling elite.
What really caused the decline advanced civilization; archaeologists are still finding it difficult to say.