Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Mayan feast

My kid's fifth grade class is having a Mayan feast. Everyone is supposed to bring and eat some Mayan food. The teacher found that Mayans and Aztecs were left out of the social studies textbook, so she has included her own lesson on the subject. I asked her if the Mayans were cannibals, and she assured me that they were not.

The AP reported last year:
MEXICO CITY (AP) -- It has long been a matter of contention: Was the Aztec and Mayan practice of human sacrifice as widespread and horrifying as the history books say? Or did the Spanish conquerors overstate it to make the Indians look primitive? In recent years archaeologists have been uncovering mounting physical evidence that corroborates the Spanish accounts in substance, if not number.

Using high-tech forensic tools, archaeologists are proving that pre-Hispanic sacrifices often involved children and a broad array of intentionally brutal killing methods.

For decades, many researchers believed Spanish accounts from the 16th and 17th centuries were biased to denigrate Indian cultures, others argued that sacrifices were largely confined to captured warriors, while still others conceded the Aztecs were bloody, but believed the Maya were less so.

"We now have the physical evidence to corroborate the written and pictorial record,'' said archaeologist Leonardo Lopez Lujan.
It says that the Aztecs were cannibals. The Mayans also engaged in human sacrifice, but maybe they didn't actually eat their victims.

The teacher said that the Mayans independently reinvented the zero, and that some Mayan writings have been decoded.

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