Ancient Maya Rituals and Beliefs

Rituals and Beliefs focuses on the scene from a plaster cast taken of a stone lintel from the doorway of a temple in the city of Yaxchilan, now in modern day Mexico, and dating from 709AD.

The images depict a blood-letting ritual being performed by Lady K'ab'al Xook and her husnabd King Shield Jaguar. Lady K'ab'al Xook can be seen pulling a rope of thorns through her tongue in order to collect blood in a bowl filled with bark paper. Both figures are wearing jade and obsidian jewellery and dressed in resplendent costumes made fo fur and elaborate fabrics. 

Build-a-bird activity

An adaptation is when part of the body becomes specialised for a certain function that means the animal has a better chance of survival in a particular environment.

The Wonderchicken research team have put together a craft activity and information sheets about different types of bird and how they have adapted to the environment they live in.

You will need:

Ancient Maya

How did the ancient Maya express their identity? What objects did they use to show their power? What can archaeology tell us about Maya life? These are some of the questions we will discuss while students learn how to read a Maya monument and handle objects from Central and South America.

Wonderchicken

Asteriornis maastrichtensis, affectionately known as the Wonderchicken, is among the most exciting bird fossils ever found. It has one of the best-preserved fossil bird skulls in the world, and gives us important insights into the evolutionary origins of modern birds.

Gravel Hunters at school

It might not look very exciting but flint gravel has a story to tell of a warm chalky sea that covered a lot of England about 90 million years ago. That’s when dinosaur were around although they were not living in this particular sea. Sometimes flint filles the holes made by borrowing animals and sometimes, if we’re lucky it enclosed the remains of sea creatures meaning it is great place to look for fossils.

What's in a name?

Scientists use all sorts of different ways to name the new plants, animals and fossils they find.

Two parts - Scientific names usually have two parts, just as people have a first name and a family name.

Latin or Ancient Greek - Often the names use words from Latin or Ancient Greek.

'Fossil' biscuits

You can use any fossil or dinosaur toys, just make sure they are clean. Use your own favourite biscuit recipe, or try this one.

You will need

  • 115g butter
  • 55g caster sugar
  • few drops of vanilla extract
  • 150g plain flour
  • 25g cornflour

Mix the butter, sugar and vanilla extract until just evenly mixed. Stir in the flour and cornflour. Roll into a log, wrap in cling film and chill for 30 mins.