Exploring Maya Civilization for Kids: Ancient Mayan Culture Documentary for Children – FreeSchool

Exploring Maya Civilization for Kids: Ancient Mayan Culture Documentary for Children – FreeSchool


You’re watching FreeSchool! Hundreds, even thousands, of years ago, before
Europeans came to explore and conquer, the Maya ruled in Mesoamerica. One of the most powerful civilizations ever
to exist in what is now Central America, the Maya created huge stone temples and pyramids,
elaborate artwork, and a complex system of heiroglyphics that puzzled academics for centuries. Despite these achievements, the Maya never
unified and formed an empire under a single leader: instead, many small city-states, each
ruled by its own king, shared a common culture to make up the Maya civilization. The Maya people worshiped nature gods – gods
of the sun, the moon, rain, and corn. According to the Popol Vuh, a book that contains
the legends of the Maya, the gods began by creating the earth and the sky. Next they made the animals, the birds and
the flying creatures. There was just one problem: the animals could
not speak to worship the gods. So, the gods decided to make humans. The first humans were made out of mud, but
they crumbled back into dirt. The gods tried a second time, carving humans
out of wood. The wooden people were strong, but they did
not worship the gods, and so the gods destroyed them with a flood. Finally the gods tried a third time, and made
humans out of white and yellow corn. The precious corn was the material that finally
produced real humans who would worship the gods. The Maya civilization developed in the thick
jungles of Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula, spreading into what is now Guatemala, Belize, western
Honduras, and El Salvador. Four thousand years ago, around 2000 BC, the
Maya began to farm, cultivating corn, beans, squash, and chili peppers. They would have hunted deer, turkeys, rabbits,
monkeys, and iguana. The Maya were also one of the first people
learn to use cocoa beans. The cocoa beans were made into a paste and
mixed with water, cornmeal, honey, and chile peppers to make a spicy, frothy drink for
the Maya kings and priests. Cocoa beans were so valuable that they were
often used as a form of money. Over time, these farms developed into permanent
settlements – towns, and villages. By 750 BC these towns developed into bigger,
more sophisticated cities. Some of their cities may have been home to
more than 100,000 people. Most people lived in huts made out of poles and
vines and plastered with mud, but the ruling class lived in huge stone palaces. Maya cities were the center of their culture. As their cities grew, the Maya built elaborate
stepped stone pyramids, paved roads and raised causeways, wide plazas with tall stone monuments,
and altars for religious sacrifices. Another common feature of Maya cities were
large stone courts that could be used to play a sport known simply as ‘the ballgame.’ The Maya ballgame was central to their culture
and their cities, and was a symbol of their wealth and power. The stone courts had high sides where people
could sit and watch as two teams competed for control of a heavy ball made of rubber. Players were not allowed to move the ball
with their hands or feet, instead hitting it with their hips, elbows, and knees to keep
it in the air. The players tried to get the ball through
a small stone hoop, high up on a wall of the court. Getting the ball through the hoop ended the
game, but it was so difficult to do that the games could go on for weeks. The ballgame was more than just a sport. It symbolized a battle between the Maya gods
in the heavens, and the rulers of Xibalba, the underworld. The winning team would represent the Hero
Twins of Maya legend, and the losers were sometimes sacrificed to the gods. Sacrifice was important in Maya culture. An offering of blood was seen as food or nourishment
for the gods. Sometimes the Maya would cut themselves and
offer their blood to the gods. Other times they would sacrifice animals. Human sacrifice was usually limited to important
events, like the dedication of a new temple or a new king, or times of trouble, like famine,
drought, or war. War was frequent in the lands of the Maya. They were not unified under a single ruler. Instead, each city and its surrounding land
was ruled by its own king, or ‘holy lord,’ who claimed to be related to the gods and
communicate with them for their people. These small kings fought each other for resources,
for territory, and for power. It was common for warriors to make small raids
into their neighbor’s territory, taking captives and looting their riches. Prisoners were sometimes tortured and forced
to play the ballgame, after which they would be sacrificed. Sometimes larger battles resulted in a strong
city conquering or destroying a weaker one. The Maya were proud of their battles. Warrior kings had their victories recorded
on stone monuments, which endure to this day. Between the frequent warring and human sacrifice,
you might think that the Maya were a violent and warlike people, but they were also scholars
and astronomers, who made many advances in mathematics, writing, and art. The Maya developed a complete system of numbers
based on the number 20, nearly 1,000 years before the development of the Arabic number
system that we use today. They also discovered the concept of zero,
one of only a few cultures in history to invent it independently. They used their number system to create one
of the most accurate calendar systems ever made, one which would not be rivaled for a
thousand years. They made great advancements in astronomy,
observing the skies as closely as possible without a telescope. With these, they were able to track the motions
of the sun, the moon, and the planets very accurately, and correctly predict their motions
even thousands of years in the future. Around 300 BC, the Maya began to write. It was the only true writing system ever to
be developed in the Americas. Instead of 26 letters, like the English alphabet,
the Maya used more than 800 different heiroglyphs. Some of the heiroglyphs represented words,
while others represented syllables that could be combined to spell out words and write sentences. The Maya made paper books from the inner bark
of trees that folded up like an accordian. A book of this kind is called a codex. In the 16th century, all but a handful of
the Maya codices were burned by Spanish priests and conquistadors. Fortunately, the Maya left written records
many other places, carved in stone in temples, sculptures, and on monuments, which lets us
piece together some of their history. The Maya have been called by some the greatest
artists in Mesoamerica. Although they had no metal tools, they were
expert carvers, creating elaborate objects out of bone, flint, and jade. They carved the stone of their buildings – the
walls, the doorways, and the stairs. They carved their sacrificial altars and the
markers of the ball courts. Most of all, they carved monuments to their
kings and their warriors, recording victories and important events for their history. The Maya were also skilled in ceramics, making
pottery of many different shapes and sizes. Cups, bowls, plates, and vases were often
elaborately decorated with paintings or carvings, sometimes even with heiroglyphic writing. The Maya also made detailed and realistic
figurines in the shape of people and animals. Although few examples survived the tropical
climate of the Maya homeland, they also made beautiful paintings and murals. Some of the brightest and most vivid murals
remaining used a special color called Maya blue. This bright blue color was very strong, and did
not fade as cities were overtaken by jungle. After the fall of Maya civilization, the secret
to making this color was lost, puzzling chemists and artists alike for hundreds of years. At the height of their culture, Maya population
may have topped 5 million people, but around 900 AD, their civilization began to decline. It did not fall all at once – because it was
never an empire with a centralized government, the fall was slow and gradual. One by one, cities fell into chaos and were
abandoned to be reclaimed by the jungle, but no one is really sure why. Perhaps the population grew too large for
the land to produce enough food for everyone to eat. Maybe constant wars between city-states destroyed
trade routes and alliances. Even a long drought could have caused people
to abandon their cities. By the time the Spanish arrived in the 1500s,
most Maya were living in small farming villages, their ancient stone cities forgotten and lost
beneath a layer of living jungle. A few cities were still inhabited, but they
were not used ceremonially the way they had been centuries earlier. The Maya were one of the most enduring and
longest-lasting civilizations in the history of the world. Many people have wondered, where did they
go? The truth is, the Maya are not gone. Millions of Maya still live in their ancestral
homeland in the Yucatan, speaking Mayan languages and practicing the traditions of their people. As for the ancient Maya, we are still learning
about them. Many Maya structures are hidden in the jungles
of the Yucatan, overgrown and just waiting for explorers and archaeologists to find them. Pyramids and cities, as well as the artifacts
and treasures inside them, are constantly being discovered. As they are, we add more pieces to the puzzle
and improve our understanding of the Maya, the ancient builders of Mesoamerica. I hope you enjoyed learning about the Maya
today. Goodbye till next time!

36 thoughts on “Exploring Maya Civilization for Kids: Ancient Mayan Culture Documentary for Children – FreeSchool

  1. Love this channel – we use it a lot while we are on the road to learn more about topics that come up during our travels!

  2. Adorei, inedito, batatas, aprendi que nos somos miho, por isso o coco tem pedaços de milho, adorei…..

  3. The voice is so….. i dont know…. relaxing, almost, but then its also like a bloody murder type calm……………..

    Read more

  4. 5:48 actually this may be untrue in the mayan culture being sacraficed was considered a great honor so it is unknown if the winners or losers were sacraficed

  5. You’re wrong in saying that they sacrificed losers, they only sacrificed the best to the gods, ergo the captain of the winning team was sacrificed

  6. She obviously meant to say " in what today is Guatemala, where the Maya civilization begun then it then spread out to other lands which is mexico now and other Central American countries". GuateMaya, and Don't you forget it. To many mistakes or it's just an old video, because so much has been discovered lately that they fail to mention. Maya writing has now been established to have begun around 600 BC, and at their height of their civilization, they numbered in the 20+ millions of people.

  7. The sacrifice at the end of pelota was symbolic. The winning captain would be sacrificed in a ceremony where he would undergo a symbolic rebirth. Thus sacrificing his old self and being born again like a snake that shed its skin to now rule the city where the game was played as the new leader. There was no blood, no decapitation.
    The actual sacrifices on the temple were performed on those born on one of the five days of the short month of the Mayan calendar.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *