Mayan influence has been traced back to 2,600-BC and it’s finally been agreed by archaeologists that the first exclusively Mayan communities formed on Mexico’s Pacific coast sometime around 1,800 BC. They were excellent farmers and traded salt and cacao with their neighbours. They had a sophisticated agricultural system and introduced many inventions that are still in use today, like our first entry at number 21.
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8 – Read the stars
If you thought the art was way ahead of its time, that has nothing on the incredible accuracy the Ancient Mayan’s had when it came to astronomy. Their observations and predictions were incredibly accurate, and it was the Mayan’s who correctly figured out that a year was a little more than 365 days. They calculated a year to be 365.242 days, and our modern figure is 365.2425. The Mayans took note that 81 lunar months lasted 2392 days, meaning each month was 29.5308 days. Our modern-day estimate for the same month is 29.53059 days. Considering there was no science to substantiate or support their work, it’s phenomenal.
7 – It’s a date
Do you remember the infamous Mayan calendar? The one that predicted that the world would end in 2012. The calendar recorded movements of the sun, moon and planets. The calendar included “The Long Count”, the “Tzolkin/Divine Calendar” and the Haab/Civil Calendar. Well, we were all led to believe that they predicted the end of the world, but we got it all wrong! The Mayan’s predicted that the world would go on, and not end as everybody believed. Other scholars of the Mayan calendar have claimed that the Mayan’s predicted the world would continue for 7,000 more years as is.
6 – Rise and Shine
And there we thought we had invented something new and exciting when glitter first came along, but no, the ancient Mayans beat us to it. They used a shiny glittery material to make their temples shine. Scientists made this discovery in 2008 when they were analysing a temple in Honduras.
The paint that they invented used to give their holy building a dazzling, more mystical appearance when the sun was shining.
5 – Turn up the heat
All along we assumed the Romans invented the sauna, when in fact it was really the Ancient Mayans. They constructed them within stone walls, with ceilings and small openings at the top to allow the steam to escape. Saunas were important for purification purposes for the Maya and they would sweat out all their impurities. The Maya King spent a great deal of time in saunas, as he always felt revived and refreshed thereafter.
4 – Inkspired
Love your ink? You can thank the Maya for the that! They were some of the first to don tattoos and it was popular with men and women. Designs were elaborate and men usually waited until they were married before they would tattoo their faces, backs, arms and legs. The women didn’t have big tattoos, and they didn’t tattoo their faces. The tattoos were usually symbols of animals or gods and often they would depict a person’s social status, skills or religious power.
3 – Food for thought
Sure, it’s no invention, however, many believe that the Maya people were the first to domesticate turkeys. They weren’t just a food source for the Maya, their feathers were used to create fans and tools and their bones were used to create musical instruments. Mexican turkey bones from the Pre-classic Maya period were found at El Mirador in Guatemala. This led researchers to believe that by this stage, turkeys were already domesticated.
2 – Smile for the camera
Grills, also known as “Grillz” or “fronts” became rather popular during the 1980s when they were worn by rappers, but this was thought to have begun with the Mayan’s, who loved to beautify their smiles with Jade. Dentists would drill small holes into their teeth and place the semi-precious stones into them.