The penalty for losing a game was sometimes unusually harsh: death. The leader of the team who lost the game was sometimes killed. This fit in with the Mayan belief that human sacrifice was necessary for the continued success of the peoples’ agriculture, trade, and overall health.
The players were only allowed to use their heads, elbows, legs, and hips to hit the ball. The ball was not allowed to touch the ground, so the players often dove to avoid losing points. If one of the teams got the ball through the stone hoop, the game was over and that team won.
The gods needed human blood and hearts to keep the sun and moon in orbit. Some ball games were played to resolve bitter disputes between rival cities or as a proxy for war. The Maya also saw the game as a battle between the gods of death and the gods of life or between good and evil.
A Mesoamerican ballcourt is a large masonry structure of a type used in Mesoamerica for over 2,700 years to play the Mesoamerican ballgame, particularly the hip- ball version of the ballgame. More than 1,300 ballcourts have been identified, 60% in the last 20 years alone.
The Maya played ball on a field that was shaped like the capital letter I. The ball, made out of rubber , was about the size of a volleyball and weighed between 6 to 10 pounds. Players would play on teams of two to four.
Blood was viewed as a potent source of nourishment for the Maya deities, and the sacrifice of a living creature was a powerful blood offering. By extension, the sacrifice of a human life was the ultimate offering of blood to the gods, and the most important Maya rituals culminated in human sacrifice .
Scholars have suggested a number of potential reasons for the downfall of Maya civilization in the southern lowlands, including overpopulation, environmental degradation, warfare, shifting trade routes and extended drought. It’s likely that a complex combination of factors was behind the collapse.
Although much of the Maya life was spent doing hard work, they did enjoy entertainment as well. A lot of their entertainment was centered around religious ceremonies. They played music, danced, and played games such as the Maya ball game.
Read more: 7 of Mexico’s best ruins, and how you can see them. Tulum , Mexico. Tulum , Mexico. Copan, Honduras. Copan, Honduras. Tikal, Guatemala. Tikal, Guatemala. Xunantunich, Belize. Xunantunich, Belize. Palenque, Mexico. Palenque, Mexico.
The designation Maya comes from the ancient Yucatan city of Mayapan, the last capital of a Mayan Kingdom in the Post-Classic Period. The Maya people refer to themselves by ethnicity and language bonds such as Quiche in the south or Yucatec in the north (though there are many others).
Mysterious Decline of the Maya One by one, the Classic cities in the southern lowlands were abandoned, and by A.D. 900, Maya civilization in that region had collapsed. The reason for this mysterious decline is unknown, though scholars have developed several competing theories.
Long before basketball and soccer , ancient Maya were hitting the park to play rounds of Mesoamerican ball game. “The idea of the team sport was invented in Mesoamerica,” says Mary Miller, a professor of the history of art at Yale University who has studied extensive evidence of the sport.
To indicate a date, the Maya calendar used five figures in this order: baktun, katun, tun, uin, kin. This would be written as, for example: 9.10. 19.5. 11 10 Chuen 4 Kumku, which translates as 9 baktuns (1,296,000 days), 10 katuns (72,000 days), 19 tuns (6,840 days), 5 uinals (100 days), 11 kins (11 days).