Antigua Market Place

Antigua Market Place
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*The Spaniards documented 31 Mayan languages at the time of conquest.

*By the time Cortes reached Peten, Guatemala in 1525, the ancient cities of Tikal, Uaxactun, and El Mirador were covered in six centuries of jungle growth.

Ancient Mayans were usually buried under the floor of the family home. At the time of the Spanish conquest, the body was wrapped in a shroud and the mouth was filled with ground maize. Sometimes wooden or ceramic idols were placed with the body. Royalty was usually buried in funerary stone temples or tombs.

Sacrifical victims were painted blue and led to the summit of a pyramid where they were stretched over a stone alter. Next, the priest or "nacom" cut open the chest using an obsidian knife and tore out the heart. He then handed it to the priest who sprinkled the blood on the faces of the idols. The last act was for the priest to throw the body down the stairs to an awaiting priest.

On July 12, 1562 a Franciscan friar named Diego de Landa destroyed a library of ancient Mayan hieroglyphic books that were undoubtebly the most important source of information about the history of the Maya ever found. It is believed that Ancient Mayan literature had developed at the same pace as Mayan mathematics, but we will never know for sure because Landa had it all burned.

Although some Christian missionaries worked to protect the Mayans from civil and religous abuses, Christianity was frequently enforced by brutal methods. This is by all accounts. Diego Quijada, the Spanish mayor of Merida gives us an accurate account of the methods frequently used by the friars in 1563. They employed whipping, scalding with hot water, beating, and some forms of mutilation. He also describes the friars use of pulleys to stretch the joints. One favorite method involved placing ropes around limbs and then twisting the ropes with sticks.