As the Maya have now entered the National Curriculum in England (History, KS2), we are adding a range of links that we hope you will find useful, for all ages...
‘An Inspiring Scene’
One of Denver Art Museum’s Creative Resources for Teachers, this is an unusual and lovely resource: a lesson plan based around a palace scene painted on a Maya ceramic vase from Guatemala. The unit encourages you to pick out intriguing details in the scene...
A superb and beautifully illustrated website, SUITABLE FOR CHILDREN, produced by the eminent Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian (USA). Great sections on the Maya, the Sun, Corn, Calendars, and more - including simple maths games! Also has a Spanish version of the site. Highly recommended...
‘All across the Maya world, in southern Mexico, Guatemala, and Belize, we are finding Maya colleagues thirsting to learn the writing of their ancestors. We support them with workshops and teaching materials...’
Reports on Maya Archaeology, for example the Foundation for Latin American Anthropological Research has books concerning plants utilized by the Maya, flowers, caves in Mesoamerican culture, incense, sacred food and drink, bats in Maya culture and Maya art rollout of vases.
A straight-forward, non-jargonistic page introducing non-specialists to the basics (and highlights) of Maya maths; part of a series on ‘Mathematics in various cultures’ written by two faculty members of the School of Mathematics and Statistics of the University of St. Andrew’s, Scotland.
A beautiful photographic essay by Justin Kerr, this page (PDF format) explores the main themes in the classic Maya creation book Popol Vuh, transcribed in the sixteenth century by an anonymous Quiché Maya writer. Second link goes to Justin Kerr’s superb mayavase database, a huge collection of rollout photographs of Maya ceramic vases.
For those seriously into correlating ancient calendars, especially the Maya calendar, this Brazilian site provides a fresh and easy-access start. Much of the site is in Portuguese, but there’s plenty in English too...
Pro Arte Maya Project/K’inal Winik Cultural Center (USA)
Artist-author-educator Marilyn Anderson works with Maya educators in the USA and Guatemala producing colouring books and other free resource materials on contemporary Maya culture, for use by children and teachers in Guatemala. Marilyn works collaboratively with the K’inal Winik Cultural Center and Yax Te’ Books in Cleveland, Ohio, whose mission is to produce and distribute books and other materials that support the use of Maya culture in classrooms around the world. They’re also involved in a wide range of exchange and educational visits programmes.
El Pilar: Historical Monument, Classroom and Living Culture
These linked sites give an impressive picture of an archaeological reserve just 50 kms from Tikal in Guatemala, where the research emphasis is on ‘ancient Maya people rather than the governing elites’. El Pilar is the only Maya site that presents the domestic component for visitors to appreciate...
Contains the Cracking the Maya code documentary, showing how scientists began to unravel the meaning of Maya glyphs. Includes a classroom activity for students where they can determine their own birth date using the Maya Long Count calendar system. The second link is for Lost King of the Maya including a tour around the Maya site of Copan. The third link is for the documentary Maya - NASA archaeologists use satellites to pinpoint ancient Maya ruins buried deep in the jungle.
Maya Adventure, a site that highlights activities and information related to ancient and modern Maya culture. Maya Adventure includes images from the Museum’s anthropological collections and activities developed by the Museum’s education division. Featured in the project is information from two exhibits about the Maya developed by the Museum, Cenote of Sacrifice and Flowers, Saints and Toads.
This well-funded research site features a searchable database of four Maya codices (Madrid, Dresden, Paris, Grolier). ‘The codices contain information about Maya beliefs and rituals, as well as everyday activities, all framed within an astronomical and calendrical context.’ Established by project leader Dr. Gabrielle Vail
The website of this excellent resource centre (in Mérida, Yucatán) has a page dedicated to Catherwood’s famous lithographs of ancient Maya ruins, all viewable online, as thumbnails and also enlarged images.
A fun, appealing version of the famous story from the Popol Vuh of how the mythical Hero Twins tricked the gods of the underworld, written by Lin Donn, illustrated by Phillip Martin (first link). Also, check out the great re-telling of the ballgame played between Hero Twins and Lords of the Underworld by Yr 5 pupils at Torriano Junior School, London (second link).
An excellent, comprehensive, clearly written and well illustrated general introduction to Maya civilisation, with sections on people, geography, languages, cities, society, religion, writing, maths, calendar, astronomy, the Maya today, a timeline and a very useful Maya glossary. Great for general research on the ancient Maya. However the slide shows are poor (best is Costume) and the site is now old and several links no longer work or are badly out of date.
‘An archaeological study of chirped echo from the Mayan pyramid of Kukulkan at Chichen Itza’
‘Could the Maya have intentionally coded the sound of their sacred bird into the pyramid architecture?’ Listen to David Lubman’s sound clips of quetzal birds in the rain forest followed by two chirped echoes stimulated by handclaps at the pyramid. Intriguing...
This is a delightful animated version of the creation myth of the Maya, based on the Popol Vuh; produced by Patricia Amlin, it was animated - 10 years in the making - in 1988 from paintings on original Maya pottery. Approx 10 mins (split into 7 separate videos).
Part of the Mayan Hands website (US based Fairtrade project supporting craft-making communities in Guatemala); provides good background information on the symbolic importance of weaving in the Maya world.
An unusual blog entry illustrating ‘Maya women hairstyles and headwear in the Classic period (c.600-900). Based on primary sources: vase paintings, murals, ceramics, figurines, bone carvings, stelae etc.’
In Spanish A beautifully illustrated article on the Terrae Antiqvae website/blog on the ‘recently’ (2008) uncovered secret of the intense pigment used by the Classic Maya. Scroll down around 1/3 of the page!
by BrainPop, a USA-based educational resource outfit producing very simple, introductory cartoons on a range of subjects. Not quite 100% accurate, but a great little snappy kid-friendly video to get things going...
When the Maya town of Ceren in El Salvador was discovered in 1978 it was hailed as the ‘New World Pompeii’: it was preserved perfectly under ash following a volcanic eruption 1400 years ago. A photo-essay on the Daily Mail website.
An excellent general educational website created in support of an exhibition on the Maya at the Canadian Museum of History back in 1995. Includes glossary, timeline, slideshows, the Maya today, plus a range of highly useful ‘backgrounder’ pages. Recommended!