Lesson 3: Maya or Myth?
- Understand how differences in social status manifest and affect daily life
- Understand how beliefs are transmitted and reinforced in a society
- Understand Maya political organization
- Understand the Maya belief system
- Understand role of trade, alliance, and warfare in Maya culture
Materials: The Maya or Myth? student activity sheet
Time Required: 30 minutes
- To help students understand beliefs, rituals, and aspects of daily life in Maya culture, they will complete a quiz. Use the quiz to launch your Maya unit, to prompt discussion, or to wrap up your unit.
- Distribute the Maya or Myth? student activity sheet and review the page with students. Students can work independently or in teams to complete the page.
- Review the answers as a class. Ask students if any of the facts surprised them and why.
- As a follow-up, have students create their own quizzes about Maya civilization.
 The Maya believed people were created from maize. [Answer: True]
 People living in different Maya cities all spoke the same language. [Answer: False]
 The Maya civilization extended from Mexico's Yucatán Peninsula to Panama. [Answer: False. Maya civilization in Mesoamerica includes parts of Mexico (Yucatán Peninsula), Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras.]
 The Maya used wooden boards to elongate infants' heads. [Answer: True]
 The Maya used looms to weave their own clothing. [Answer: True]
 The Maya put gold fillings in their teeth. [Answer: False. The Maya used jade, pyrite, hematite, or turquoise.]
 Cacao beans were used to make jewelry. [Answer: False. Cacao beans were used as currency.]
 The Maya believed the number 13 was very unlucky. [Answer: False. The number 13 was considered a sacred number.]
 The Maya sutured wounds with human hair. [Answer: True]
 The first Maya settlements are about 1,000 years old. [Answer: False. The first Maya settlements are more than 1,000 years old.]
 The Maya built stone columns called stelae to ward off evil spirits. [Answer: False. The stelae were used to record religious dates, chart family trees, glorify rulers, and chronicle wars.]
 In some parts of the Maya civilization, a sacred cenote was a sinkhole used for sacrifices. [Answer: True]
 The Maya deposited the bones of hunted animals in sacred caves. [Answer: True]
 The ancient Maya practiced bloodletting because they thought it cleansed their bodies. [Answer: False. Bloodletting was done to please the gods, celebrate events, and maintain power.]
 Players in the Maya ball game couldn't touch the ball with their hands or feet. [Answer: True]