Ancient Mayan Daily Life

The Maya were skilled at making pottery, carving jade, knapping flint, and making elaborate costumes of feathers. One of the finest carved jade objects of Mayan civilization, the head of the sun god Kinich Ahau, was found in a tomb at the classic period site of Altún Ha, thirty kilometers northwest of present-day Belize City.

Ancient Mayan Food

The Maya ate lots of different foods- including peppers, beans, squash, and fruit -but served corn at each meal. Maya women made cakes by grinding corn kernels intozacan, a thick dough cooked on a stone comal. The Maya also made salsa from tomatoes, chili peppers, onions, and juice from sour oranges. They called this spicy mixture Xni Pec.

The Maya were very clever people. Their system of mathematics was among the most sophisticated in the ancient world. Like the ancient Romans, the Mayas were master builders. The Mayans had a sense of beauty that would be seen as hideous in our present society. They practiced skull deformation by tying boards to the forehead of newborn children.

Ancient Mayan Girls

Girls lived with their parents until they were married. Their mothers taught them how to cook, spin yarn, weave, and clean house. Unmarried men painted their faces black and lived in communal houses where they learned about crafts, warfare, and played games. Slaves worked in the homes of noble families. Some slaves cared for the children. Some cleaned the house. Still others worked in the fields.

Mayan girls were to get married at age 14 and men at age 18. These marriages were usually arranged by a matchmaker and groom's parents. the bride's family paid a dowry to the grooms' family to seat the wedding agreement. The Mayans settled near natural water. It is the man's responsibility for supplying his family with food, and shelter. The woman is not responsible.


The ancient Maya achieved an unparalleled understanding of astronomy. They developed an advanced system of mathematics that allowed them to create a set of calendars unrivaled in the ancient world. Ancient Mayan art that has survived confirms that the Mayans believed in a cyclical nature of both time and celestial movements. Everything occurs more than once and continues to cycle in endless repetitious patterns.

Illness and misfortune were viewed as resulting for evil spirits or disfavor of the gods. Sorcerers were called to examine the victim after an illness was diagnosed. The sorcerer or priest could apply a series of remedies including potions, rituals, and divinations.

Excavations at the ancient Maya site of Calakmul, Mexico, have uncovered a "painted pyramid:" a structure decorated with murals depicting scenes of its inhabitants giving, receiving, and consuming diverse foods, as well as displaying and transporting other goods.

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