The Mayan culture has always fascinated me. We were at the ruins in Tulum, Mexico, three years ago and enjoyed learning about it so much, we booked a tour to see the Lamanai Ruins in Belize.
The photos above are of the Jaguar Temple, built circa 100 BC. The Mayans believed that when the sun set in the evening, it went to hell. The sun changed into a jaguar to find its way out of hell, conveniently doing so just in time for sunrise the next morning.
There was a ball court similar to this one in every Mayan city. It was played with a hard rubber ball about the size of our soccer ball. They took this game seriously. The captain of the winning team was sometimes sacrificed to show appreciation to their gods. Don't you know they were lining up to be captain?
Here's Hub climbing up and down the temple steps. It looked like fun, but I was having issues with my lower back from the aforementioned boat ride, so I had to pass.
This last structure is the mask temple. See the masks in the lighter stone in front?
Some random facts about the Mayans:
Medicinal needs were conducted by shamans, who used sorcery and herbs for healing.
Babies had objects dangled between their eyes until the eyes were permanently crossed; this was
considered great beauty.
Some children were selected at birth to be a special sacrifice. They had the best food and clothing and never worked. It was a good life until you were mature enough to get your heart cut out and offered to the gods.
They used hallucinogenic drugs self-administered by enemas.
They believed that the souls of the dead rose in the sap of the cotton tree and was thus transported to heaven.
They were very short.
Their calendar does not predict the end of the world in 2012. It is the end of a cycle, like December 31 is the end of our year. The 'end of the world' hype was started by Jose Arguelles in 1987, no doubt hoping it would boost the sale of his new book about the Mayans. I'm sure it did.