Guided by their religious ritual, the Maya also made significant advances in mathematics and astronomy, including the use of the zero and the development of complex calendar systems like the Calendar Round, based on 365 days, and later, the Long Count Calendar, designed to last over 5,000 years.
During the pre-Columbian era, human sacrifice in Maya culture was the ritual offering of nourishment to the gods. 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.
The Maya dead were laid to rest with maize placed in their mouth. Maize, highly important in Maya culture, is a symbol of rebirth and also was food for the dead for the journey to the otherworld. Similarly, a jade or stone bead placed in the mouth served as currency for this journey.
Families lived in great cities like Yax Mutal and Palenque, and also in surrounding farmland. Adults worked as farmers, warriors, hunters, builders, teachers and many other things. Children from noble families could learn maths, science, writing and astronomy, but poorer children were only taught their parents’ jobs.
The Mayans religion involved several aspects of nature, astronomy and rituals. Most Gods represented a form in nature, for example, Sun God , Kinih Ahous, or Maize God , Yum Kaax . The Mayans were known for their calenders and astronomical buildings. These were used during their religious rituals.
Two thousand years ago, the ancient Maya developed one of the most advanced civilizations in the Americas. They developed a written language of hieroglyphs and invented the mathematical concept of zero. With their expertise in astronomy and mathematics, the Maya developed a complex and accurate calendar system.
Most Maya today observe a religion composed of ancient Maya ideas, animism and Catholicism. Some Maya still believe, for example, that their village is the ceremonial centre of a world supported at its four corners by gods.
Maya priests in the city of Chichen Itza in the Yucatan peninsula sacrificed children to petition the gods for rain and fertile fields by throwing them into sacred sinkhole caves, known as “cenotes.” The caves served as a source of water for the Mayans and were also thought to be an entrance to the underworld.
In addition to slicing out the hearts of victims and spilling their blood on the temple altar, it’s believed that the Aztecs also practiced a form of ritual cannibalism. The victim’s bodies, after being relieved of their heads, were likely gifted to nobleman and other distinguished community members.
The Aztecs believed in an afterlife. After they died, the Aztecs believed they would be assigned a job to do that helped their gods. Warriors who died in battle were believed to turn into butterflies and hummingbirds. This helped the gods who created nature.
Burial Practices in Mesopotamia Burial in Mesopotamia began c. 5000 BCE in ancient Sumer where food and tools were interred with the dead. According to the historian Will Durant, “The Sumerians believed in an after-life.
Pyramids were used not only as temples and focal points for Maya religious practices where offerings were made to the gods but also as gigantic tombs for deceased rulers, their partners, sacrificial victims, and precious goods.
They slept in hammocks strung up in the houses during the rainy season; weather permitting, hammocks were also used outdoors. Many Maya continue to live in houses similar to those in which their ancestors lived.