How stunning does this location look like? Well… it is, in fact, a photograph of a picture. A massive one that makes you feel like you were actually there and that it is part of a fabulous international exhibition called The Maya – Mystery of the lost cities that it is taking place at the MARQ in Alicante until the 7th of January of 2018.
So much to do and see that I don’t even know how to start explaining everything I’ve experienced. It was such a brilliant exhibition! This is one of the first colossal graphics you can bump into at the entrance. A detailed map of the colonised territory by the Maya.
The museum dedicated 3 massive rooms that were divided into:
- The creation of the Mayan world
- The splendour and collapse of the Mayan culture
- Men and women of corn
As a linguist, I was really happy to see that one of the first pieces exhibited was related to language.
As read in the note that accompanies the piece:
…In the 16th century, missionaries burnt almost all of the existing books because they were considered “the work of the devil”. Sadly, any knowledge of Mayan writing was also consumed with the flames. For many centuries, attempts were made to decipher the Mayan script, but it wasn’t until the early 1980s that any major breakthroughs were made. Since then, Mayan hieroglyphics have been deciphered at a staggering rate. Today we can read and understand over 70% of the 800 symbols that have been identified. It appears as though these vestiges of the Mayan culture may finally reveal their story.
And really close to this massive stone there was an interactive screen that helped you to understand how does this kind of writing work.
The Mayan hieroglyphs consist of the combination of two types of signs. A word can be written with signs that represent full words (logograms) or with syllabic signs (syllabograms). Logograms and syllables combine in a variety of forms, for example, to represent grammatical structures or to create new meanings. Hence, Maya hieroglyphic writing is considered to be a very complex writing system.
And there is more interactive fun since you can also calculate your Mayan birthday date and how it should be written.
What else? Lots of sensational pieces with a replica for the blind 👏👏👏 such as:
Or many other top items like…
All this with sound effects from the jungle being played in the background. One almost feels like Indiana Jones when he is about to find the holy grail. Especially with so many cups displayed within the collection .
One of my favourite parts was a reference to a tale (I am a huge fan of this type of literature) included in the Popol Vuh. The myth of the ball game.
The myth of the ball game
The Popol Vuh, the book containing the Maya’s creation myth, also tells us a different story – a story about the twin brothers Hun Hunahpu and Vucub’Hunahpu. One day there were playing the ball game close to the entrance to the underworld (Xibalba). Annoyed by all the noise, the lords of Xibalba challenged the twins to a game in their own ball court. The gods won the game and decapitated the twins, hanging the head of Hun Hunahpu in a tree.
Later a daughter of the lords of the underworld passed by the tree. Ann of a sudden Hun Hunahpu’s head spat into the girl’s hand, making her pregnant. Fearing her father’s wrath she fled from the underworld.
Nine months later she gave birth – also to twins, and again two brothers. They enjoyed the ball game as much as their father had. And the lords of the underworld invited them to the game, too. The twins were nor as easily mislead as Hun Hunahpu and his brother, and survived the many tests with which the lords of the underworld challenged them. With cunning ruse they distracted the lords so that they would be able to steal their father’s head and reunite it with his body. And so they brought him back to life. They eventually defeated the lords of Xibalba, earning them their name – the hero twins. Later they rose up to heaven and became the sun and the moon. Many scholars believe that Hun Hunahpu is the maize god.
A MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH
The Maya played an unusual ball game, of which there were several variants. The ball would be thrown into the court by hand and the players had to keep it in play using only their hips and thighs. The size of the ball varied from one city to another, some being as large as football while others were no bigger than a tennis ball. But all the balls were made of solid rubber, so they were very heavy and bounced all over the place. The players passed the ball around by bouncing it from a girdle strapped round their hips. They also wore padding to protect their knees, hands and shins.
Along two sides of the court were platforms for the spectators on top of the court’s sloping walls. Teams scored points by passing the ball through a stone ring that was attached to the court’s side wall. That was very difficult, because the ring’s opening was only a little bit wider than the ball.
The stakes were very high in this game: the members of the losing team were decapitated and sacrificed to the gods. This fate often befell prisoners of war. The game’s outcome was evident from the beginning: Weakened by the privations suffered, the prisoners of war were doomed to lose. Even today, in some areas of Mexico, Ulama is played, a modern variant of the sport, where luckily, the only thing that matters is the score.
It was such a treat! I highly recommend it if you have the chance to be in Alicante at some point. My most sincere congratulations to the people who made it possible!