March 14 – September 7, 2020
Entry: Exhibit Ticket Required | Location: Union Terminal
Welcome to the jungle
A sophisticated civilization buried in the heart of the rainforest
Immerse yourself in the genius of the Maya – early disrupters living in cities of stone carved into the rainforest. By studying the stars they developed a calendar more accurate than any other in the world. Their discovery of the number zero opened the door for advanced mathematics. Rubber balls were essential to Maya sports centuries before the "discovery" of vulcanized rubber. And they introduced the world to chocolate. Theirs was a civilization of astronomers, mathematicians, inventors and gods.
For the first time in the United States, the mysteries of the Maya come to life. With over 300 artifacts, discover how the Maya live on today – in their inventions that continue to shape our daily lives and in the millions who carry on the Maya tradition in language and lineage.
Unearth a world of gods and innovators
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Polychrome Stucco Figure of a Jaguar Warrior
One of the few known examples of large, three-dimensional stucco sculptures discovered with its original colors still preserved. The jaguar-masked figure is believed to represent a mythological feline being – either a high-ranking noble in the guise of a jaguar deity or one of the feline figures from the diverse pantheon of classic Maya deities. It measures over 9 feet long and 2 feet high (Height: 66 cm; Length: 266 cm; Width: 105 cm). Maya Lowlands, Peten, Guatemala, Early Classic period (ca. 250-600 CE). Fundación La Ruta Maya, Guatemala
Carved Jade Plaque from Nebaj
This is one of the largest carved jade Maya plaques. It has been found in a large ceramic urn in an ancient Maya city close to the modern Ixil Maya town of Nebaj in the highlands of Guatemala. A large ceramic urn buried under a stairway held the riches cache offering at the site and included several jade plaques, among them this one. This jade plaque features a Maya king with a headdress based on the mask of a deity, sitting on a throne and leaning against a feathered cushion. The throne is adorned with three masks. The ruler pays attention to a little person to the left of the scene, who is shown with crossed arms, the sign of greeting and respect. At the sides of the plaque, heads yield maize plants, with heads emergent, which probably represent the young Maize God. Nebaj, Quiche, Guatemala. Late Classic (AD 600-800)
Cancuen Panel 1
Panel carved in limestone with a hieroglyphic text of 160 glyphs. Originally part of a wall, it was carved by the same sculptor who made the Panel 3 of Cancuén. The inscription recounts a dynastic tale spanning from the year 652 to 799 AD, when the panel was commissioned by the ruler Taj Chan Ahk, "Torch-Sky-Turtle". The text describes a ruler's accession to the throne and his pilgrimage to the sea, among other rituals.
This panel thus provides tantalizing clues that Maya kings visited the sea and that such pilgrimages strengthened what might have been weak or questionable claims to royal thrones. The final passages on the panel record another accession at Cancuén under the patronage of Yuknoom Ch'e'n and culminate in the commissioning of the panel itself, in 799, to mark the tomb of the second lord to accede at Cancuén under the influential lord of Calakmul.
This is one of the longest hieroglyphic inscriptions known from the Maya lowlands, and will be included in the exhibition together with a full translation. Cancuén, Guatemala. Late Classic (ca. A.D. 799)
Figurines from El Peru
In 2006, archaeologists discovered the burial place of a previously unknown ruler, accompanied by 23 clay figurines and other objects intended to accompany the king on his journey to the underworld. The figurines were characters in a ceremony to resurrect the deceased king. The figurines lack detailed eyes, possibly to indicate a trance-like state. The group of figurines is unique in Maya art. El Peru, Late Classic period (ca. 600-650 CE), clay. MUNAE, Guatemala
Maya Field Trips
Explore the unique advancements of the Maya that live with us today. For the first time in the U.S., over 300 original Maya artifacts shed light on their mysterious culture, showcasing the vibrancy and sophistication of the Maya civilization. Maya is a vibrant, immersive supplement to the Ohio grade 5 and Kentucky grade 7 curriculum. The exhibition also provides an enrichment opportunity for high school Spanish clubs.
Save Money When You Visit Maya as a Group!
Escape to a world of ancient rituals and jaguar kings. Learn more about a culture with sophistication in astronomy, science and math. The secrets of this anciant civilization are waiting to be discovered.