Mayan Civilisation: Inventions and Achievements

In the previous posts regarding the Maya, I’ve talked about their amazing calendars and infrastructure. In this post I’m going to be briefly looking at some of the remarkable inventions and achievements the Maya have developed.

A system of writing:


Among the ancient Americas the Maya invented the most advanced form of writing, known as glyphs. Glyphs are used to describe or represent a word, sound or even a syllable through pictures or symbols. The Maya used about 700 different glyphs, by which 80% of the language is now understood.

The Maya wrote about their history and achievements all the time, on walls, pillars and big stone slabs. In particular, they also wrote books (or codex’s) about almost everything; gods, daily life, new leaders and more. These books were made of bark and folded like a fan. Unfortunately, because of the Spanish, many of the books were destroyed, thought by Spanish priests to have been depicting the devil and demons; a good job a few survived! In relation to their system of writing, on my previous posts I linked a video regarding the decoding of their language, a great documentary!

Law and order:


The Maya had their own laws and punishments to coincide. However, they were usually very reasonable and fair. If you stole something, you were held captive by the victim as punishment, for less serious crimes, you would have some hair cut off. Short hair was a sign of disgrace and dishonesty among the Maya. Another punishment included possessions being sold at auction. Moreover, the Maya held their own trials, displaying similarities to our current practices: evidence was presented before a judge and if found guilty you would be punished.


The Maya loved their sports, having a ball-court in every city, similar to stadiums that we have today. The games were of great importance to the Maya, often playing during religious festivals every 20 days. The courts were located at the foot of temples, in honour of the Gods and Goddesses. The courts had large playing areas; each with a stone hoop mounted on the wall at one end. The Maya loved playing a rough sport called pok-a-tok, by which the aim of the game was to get a solid rubber ball through the hoop, using only your hips, shoulders or arms. The winners often won possessions of the losing team. However, the losing team, often played by captives (often extremely exhausted and hungry) were sacrificed in the name of the Mayan Gods.

Check out this call video showing the sport in action! Click here.



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