The Yucatan Times presents component III in its brand-new “The Chichén Itzá series” pass you a closer look at on the history of the main sites and also buidings that this amazing new wonder of the world.

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—Read part I— The temple of the warriors

—Read component II—The sacred Cenote

The sphere GameBall gamings were played throughout Mesoamerica in pre-Columbian times. Various versions that a ball game were play from very early times. In influential centers such as El Tajin or Chichen Itza, remains of these “sacred playgrouns” have actually been discovered.

The oldest ball court yet discovered was built about 1400 BC at Paso de la Amada in Chiapas, Mexico and the earliest well-known rubber balls are also older and also were uncovered at an Olmec sacrificial site.

Some experts also say the it to be the Olmeca who invented the Mesoamerican round game, because of the theory that the rubber tree to be not found in the highlands of the Aztec Empire, however, historical records present that every so often, countless lumps of life rubber were imported from the Gulf lowland, most of it for making rubber balls.

The Aztecs referred to the world in this lowland an ar as Olmeca, indigenous the Nahuatl word “Olmēcatl”, written of the two words “olli” meaning “rubber”, and also mēcatl meaning “people”, therefore the word means “rubber people

The ball game was really popular amongst Pre-Colombian worlds for an ext than 2,000 years, and was still played by the Aztecs once the Spaniards arrived.

Mayan ball GameUnlike the violent Aztec version, the Maya played a much more gentle and also elegant video game of skill, however, from the multiple depictions that have survived and also some of the staying Maya writings it is obvious that the Mayan ball video game was as deadly together the Aztec.

Some historians have mention that in routine games, the leader that the shedding team would certainly be sacrificed, and his skull would then be supplied as the core around which a brand-new rubber sphere would it is in made. Although the sacrifice component was likely happened indigenous time to time, that theory has been refuse by Christophe Helmke, an associate professor at the academy of Cross-Cultural and regional Studies in ~ the college of Copenhagen.


Modern Mayan-ballgame player

The best record, regarding the rules was compiled by Dominican friar Diego Durán who for years, interviewed thousands of indigenous elders about it. Based on Durán’s writings about the game from the at an early stage 1570s, this is just how the game worked:

The ballgame was played within a large stone framework consisting of a lengthy narrow playing ar flanked by 2 walls. The video game was play by two teams of two to four players.The ball had actually to be maintained in the wait by hitting it through the hips, thighs or upper arms, and bouncing it turn off the next walls. Use of the hands or feet was forbidden.The solid rubber sphere was extremely hard and also serious injuries to be commonplace. Durán stated that some bruises were so severe that they had actually to be sliced open. The also listed that players were even killed once the round hit them in the confront or stomach.Teams could earn point out if they drove the ball right into the end zone or if the opposing team do a mistake or touched a teammate.As because that the hoops, friar Durán composed that sometimes the round would go v a hoop, situated at the alley’s midpoint. “If the happened, the totality game would certainly stop and the human being who put the sphere through the hoop would certainly be hailed a victor,” stated Durán, yet he never stated that was the allude of the game. He defines in his writings about the ball game “that might happen once in a while and also that it to be truly exceptional”. Moreover, the vast majority of sphere courts in the Maya area do not have hoops.Human sacrifices weren’t one integral part of the game, because the sacrifice would have been lugged out anyway, and also yes, provided how popular and also well-attended the ballgames were, sometimes a captive might have to be executed at the game.

There is a modern perception the ballgame players were regularly sacrificed. Component of this misunderstanding stems indigenous the “Popol Vuh” — one epic the tells the development myth of among the Maya peoples. The Popol Vuh started as one oral heritage that was later on written under by an aboriginal leader, and then recopied by Dominican friar Francisco Ximénez in the early on 1700s. In the Popol Vuh, which means “Book the the People” — you have the right to read the full text here, underworld deities battle and also use trickery come triumph in a ballgame versus humans, whom the deities then decapitate. Then, the pair sons of among the murdered heroes challenge off versus the underworld deities, and also this time the people win and dismember the underworld lords. In addition to the association in between the game and also the gory Popol Vuh, this “human sacrifice” myth stems native artwork ~ above some ball courts special skulls and bones.

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Drawing the a wall surface at the great Ballcourt in Chchén Itzá. The number to the left the the skull sphere holds a sacrificial blade and also the head that a decapitated player, who at the appropriate kneels v serpents spewing from his severed neck.

Sometimes aristocracy would play, in some situations inviting surrounding political leaders to contend in a present of allegiance. However regardless the whether nobility or consistent athletes were on the playing alley, the gamings were heavily attended, with some human being losing big sums, even their clothes, because they made big bets, friar Durán wrote.

See more: Battle Of Utica (203 Bc)

If you desire to suffer this spectacular emotion of what a ball game was, reap Chichen Itza´s sphere court and feel the background under her feet.

Tomorrow, discover with united state “El Caracol” of Chichen Itza, among the world’s earliest observatories