Hidden Treasures of Mayan Art

pyramid el castillo in chichen itza mexico
Photo by Omar Zetina on Pexels.com

Hidden Treasures of Mayan Art is the article by NYK Daily that showcases the works of Mayan artists. This website gives an insight into the Preclassic era and the Samabaj ruins of Chichen Itza. The website also focuses on masks, looting, and the Mesoamerican civilization.

Preclassic era

The Preclassic era of the Maya is a period from 2000 BCE to 250 CE. It is the time of the emergence of first settlements and the development of large-scale ceremonial architecture. This era also saw the rise of states and the development of a complex calendar.

During this era, the Maya deposited large amounts of obsidian around their royal tombs. They carved stone monuments. The Preclassic era lasted for centuries and was a time of power. In addition, the Maya developed a writing system that reflected their religious beliefs. These writings are known for their complexity and for introducing a concept of number zero.

The Preclassic era is characterized by large-scale architectural constructions, a complex calendar, and the rise of states. It was a time of power and social inequality.

During this era, the ancient Maya built a city-state in Peten, Mexico. This city-state rivaled later Classic Mayan city-states in monumental architecture. At its height, El Mirador was one of the most influential cities in the region. During this time, the Maya manufactured ceramic objects for both ceremonial and domestic use.

The Maya were able to produce some of the world’s most beautiful works of art during the Preclassic era. One example is Copan, the most well-preserved remains of an ancient Maya city. Another is Tulum, a coastal site where the Maya created a maritime culture.

During the Preclassic era, the Maya were able to use a sophisticated blade technology to produce obsidian and greenstone artifacts. Obsidian was a rare commodity in the lowlands during this time.

Mesoamerican civilization

The Maya were one of the most powerful Indigenous societies in Mesoamerica before the 16th century Spanish conquest. They built impressive monuments and cities, and left behind symbolic artwork. Their culture was centered in a geographical block that encompassed parts of present-day Mexico, Belize, and Honduras.

The Maya were a complex society with an advanced understanding of their environment. They excelled in agriculture, writing, and mathematics. However, they also developed an intense religious life. Their kings claimed to be the mediators between gods and the people.

They performed bloody rituals and cut off the heads of victims with regularity. Their sacrificial fires were reminiscent of Roman gladiatorial games.

They were the earliest major Mesoamerican civilization. They were the forerunners of the Olmecs, who influenced later civilizations in the region.

Until the 16th century CE, the Maya ruled over a vast geographic region that covered parts of modern-day Mexico, Belize, and western parts of Honduras. The society was based on centralized management of water resources. Throughout their history, the Maya maintained an advanced knowledge of agriculture, mathematics, and art.

By the seventh and eighth centuries AD, the Maya reached its highest achievement. The writing system grew to a high level of complexity. During this period, the scepter of the king took the form of a powerful god of lineage. Its dazzling image was revealed in mosaic mirrors.

One of the greatest contributions of the Maya was the development of an intensive production and agricultural system. They cultivated a variety of crops. These included corn, beans, squash, and cassava.

Samabaj ruins

The ancient Maya built soaring pyramids and elaborate palaces in the southern part of Mexico and Central America. The Maya kings lived in stone palaces located near the temples. A submerged island called Samabaj was the hub of a trade network in antiquity.

When Samabaj sank into the murky waters of Lake Atitlan, it was left untouched for over a thousand years. Its ruins are now a testament to ancient Maya civilization. They reveal a world of splendor that was lost to history.

In the heyday of the Maya, it was a religious pilgrimage site. Sacrifices were made and rituals performed on this sacred island. The main plaza was designed for the mass worship of the divine. There were even saunas for purification before the shrines.

This was a small, but significant part of the culture. The priests at Samabaj were able to interpret divine messages from smoke columns. Another sign of the Maya’s spirituality was the use of sweat baths. These were considered to be a form of medicine, and were known to help correct imbalances in the body.

It is not surprising that a diver would find such a site. Divers had explored the waters of Yucatan before. However, it was only in 1998 that scuba diver Roberto Samayoa found this ancient pilgrimage site. He brought photos of the underwater plazas to the attention of archeologists.

As it turns out, there was a lot to be learned from the excavation of these ruins. Sonia Medrano, head of the Samabaj project, and her team have revealed some fascinating aspects of the ancient Maya.

Sacred cenote of Chichen Itza

A ceremonial cenote is located in Chichen Itza, a city in the Yucatan Peninsula. It is a natural cave that is a source of life-giving water.

This natural sinkhole was the site of religious ceremonies and sacrifices by the pre-Hispanic Maya. The site has been excavated to reveal an array of artifacts. One of the most famous is the Sacred Cenote, a circular hole in the earth’s surface.

Among the many artifacts recovered is a gold disk made in Panama. Gold is rare in Maya tombs, but it is a sign of generosity to the gods.

A skull found in the cenote has a hole in the base that was secured to display it on a rack. Archeologists have found that the hole was drilled with a percussive tool.

A large number of the human remains discovered in the cenote include children and males. These victims were probably sacrificed for several reasons, such as their beauty, strength, or the power of their parents.

The Sacred Cenote was considered important to the wellbeing of the Maya people. Several of the items found in the cenote are displayed at the Pebody Museum in Harvard University.

The Sacred Cenote is now considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is a place of pilgrimage for the ancient Maya. People would travel from all over the northern Yucatan Peninsula to visit this site. In fact, there are thousands of cenotes throughout the peninsula.


Masks and sculpted stucco reliefs were a common feature in the art of the Maya. This ancient civilization, located along the northern shores of the Yucatan Peninsula in central Mexico, thrived during the Late Preclassic era, which lasted from 300 B.C. to 250 A.C.

The mask was a large, human-looking face, which was carved in stucco. It was as tall as a person and clearly identifiable as a Mayan mask.

The mask was buried in the tomb of King Pakal, who was the king of Palenque during the Late Preclassic period. It was adorned with a suit of jade plaques, strung with gold.

Archaeologists have discovered several examples of monumental sculptures across the former Maya kingdom, from Tikal in Guatemala to Kohunlich in Mexico. They also have found examples of embedded decorative sculptures, which were common in the Maya civilization.

A new exhibit at the Pinacotheque museum in the city of Merida, which is thousands of miles away from native Mexico, highlights one of the most important pre-Columbian archeological discoveries. The show features Mayan death masks.

Masks were a common feature of the art of the Maya, as was their use during ceremonies. Many different tribes of Maya created masks. These were often made from wood, stone, bone or shell. Various symbolic elements are also found in the artwork. For example, the water serpent represents rebirth.

One of the most notable examples of a Mayan mask is the mask of Tutankhamun. This mask was created with great care. In addition to the jewelry and ceramics, the mask includes a turtle head-shaped piece of orange seashells.


In the 1990s, an ancient Mayan city was uncovered in the Tekal de Venegas region of Guatemala. Archeologists discovered a walled city and several other structures. The walled city was found in an almost virgin forest.

One of the most valuable artifacts was a headless stone statue of the Sumerian king Entemena of Lagash. This is still on display at the Hermitage in Saint Petersburg.

Ancient Maya were reputed for their bloody rituals and human sacrifices. They were also known to chop heads off and cut off hearts.

Many looted objects ended up in black markets with rich art dealers and collectors. While there has been some return of stolen artwork, most remain in foreign hands.

Looting operations have become increasingly intertwined with the drug trade. Bandits rob ancient sites in Belize, Honduras, and Mexico. Some have even robbing graves.

There has been an increased interest in restitution. While many world-renowned museums are unlikely to give up iconic main attractions, they may be willing to listen.

Provenance, or the identification of the source of an object, is important to archaeological historians. It is essential to understand how an artifact was taken and where it came from.

Traditionally, art dealers provide photographs of their artifacts. These photos are a useful tool to help archeologists understand the context of an artifact. However, as the volume of artifacts being looted grows, these photographs are becoming less and less useful.

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