Ancient cultures are full of wonder. Often, we look to the west for inspiration of ancient civilizations. However, they're not the only ones that can hold the title of "advanced civilizations." The Maya people constructed complex architecture and cities, as well as offered significant contributions in astronomy, agriculture, and engineering. Although their ancient cities have been hidden by miles of jungle, there are more than six million Maya descendants living in Central America today.
Even though much has been discovered, deeper insights and new discoveries continue to be made. With each new discovery comes more amazement in the complexities and sophistication of the Maya culture. The Perot Museum in Dallas has set up an incredible exhibit, running February 11th - September 4th, to give you and your family an incredible bilingual hands on learning experience. I'm happy to be giving away a family four pack of tickets to Maya: Hidden Worlds Revealed! Keep reading...
Highlights of Maya: Hidden Worlds Revealed Include
More than 200 authentic artifacts including spectacular examples of Maya artistry made by masters of their craft, along with objects from everyday life. Examples include an inkpot made out of a seashell which still retains the dried pigment colors hundreds of years after active use, numerous vessels and figurines; and more.
Dozens of hands-on activities that dig into Maya life during the Classic period. Visitors will have a chance to decipher glyphs, decode the Maya calendar, build corbeled arches, explore tombs, investigate the Maya understanding of math and astronomy, and more.
An exploration of Maya architecture – from its awe-inspiring temples to the simple homes of the common people. Visitors will see a huge re-created portion of a famous frieze, or richly ornamented exterior wall portion, from the El Castillo pyramid in Xunantunich, a Maya civic ceremonial center. Guests will marvel at its size and detail, and then watch as modern technology is used to make the ancient frieze’s vivid colors emerge once again to their original vibrancy.
Several replica large-scale carved monuments, or stelae, that were erected in the great plazas of Maya cities. Their inscriptions have given scholars valuable insight into ancient Maya history – from royal succession to political conflicts and great battles.
A re-creation of the elaborate royal tomb of the Great Scrolled Skull in Santa Rita Corozal, a Maya site in Belize. Visitors will see the full tomb assemblage, which features jade, jewels, pottery and more, and explore the fascinating story that the artifacts reveal about the politics and economics of this Maya city.
An examination of the concepts of ritual and human sacrifice that allowed the Maya to transcend the earthly world and speak with the gods of the underworld. Visitors will see the concepts of death and rebirth – concepts that were essential to the Maya – arise throughout the exhibition.
The bilingual exhibition, presented in English and Spanish, requires a surcharge for members and non-members. Presented by Highland Capital Management, Maya: Hidden Worlds Revealed will run through Sept. 4, 2017, at the Perot Museum. Member preview days are Feb. 9-10.
Book Resources to Learn More About the Maya
A great way to prepare for a museum exhibit visit is to get to know a little bit about the Maya people.
You Wouldn't Want to Be a Mayan Soothsayer!: Fortunes You'd Rather Not Tell - This humorous book talks about the role of Maya priests. It's very informative, and a great way to start the conversations about the belief system of the Mayans.
- Rain Player - One of our favorite parts of the exhibit was the heavy rubber ball. It's so cool to see the games that the ancient Mayas played with a ball made from their abundant rubber trees! This book is beautifully illustrated and will keep your kids on the edge of their seat!
- The Ancient Maya - This is an excellent non-fiction book that will spark curiosity and interest for your young learners. With large print and full page photos, your kids will love reading through this great resource.
- Mario's Mayan Journey - When young Mario becomes curious about the Maya culture, he dreams himself into a jungle adventure and is escorted through Maya ruins by flamingos. This light-hearted story will be a fun and colorful way to introduce kids to the ancient Maya way of life.
- The Corn Grows Ripe - Corn was a staple crop for the Maya people. Many of their religious beliefs were tied to the growing and harvesting of corn. After Tigre's father becomes ill, 12 year old Tigre must decide if he can do a grown man's work and help the family appease their gods. This story provides a great balance of imparting information and story telling. It's an excellent resource for Maya studies.
- Aztec, Inca, & Maya (A DK Book) - This is another excellent historical reference for kids. It presents many pictures that will help familiarize your kids (and yourself) with some of the artifacts you might see in the exhibit. It would also be an excellent follow up resource to learn more as interests are aroused.
- The Chocolate Tree - This Maya folk tale gives the back story to where the chocolate tree came from. It is beautifully illustrated and masterfully weaves Maya history into the folk tale.
Coloring books can be a great way to follow up your studies. When you take the time to color something in, you focus on more details than you might otherwise. Here are some great options:
Win Tickets to See This Excellent Exhibit
The Perot Museum gave me 4 VIP tickets that will get you into the museum and the Maya: Hidden Worlds Revealed exhibit. Click below to enter to win. Contest ends February 16th at midnight!
Betsy Strauss is an unexpected homeschooler, mother of three, who is in a relationship with a sweet man for life. She loves reading books, drinking coffee, and learning anything with her kids.