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15 Lesser Known Facts about the Ancient Mayans

By Andrew Alpin, 28 October 2017

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12Hey Good Looking Cockeyed

For the Mayans, being cross-eyed meant a blessing of the sun god Kinich Ahau who they believed was a cross-eyed god. Children were made to go cross-eyed by dangling objects between their eyes which adults thought would eventually make them go cross-eyed permanently. They felt that if children were cockeyed, they would be blessed by the sun god with prosperity wealth and a good future.

Hey Good Looking Cockeyed

11Mayans loved getting inked

It was a known fact about the Mayans that they loved being tattooed and a Mayan man would be often seen getting inked all over his body. For the Mayans, Tattooing was not just for beautification but for spiritual purposes too as tattooing for the Mayans was a highly spiritual practice. It was also a symbol of status and more the body modification, the higher the status symbol.

The Mayans system of tattooing was extremely painful as it involved cutting the design into the skin and then getting inked which in today’s world is called scarification. Both men and women were frequently tattooed although men often waited to get inked only after marriage. While men tattooed themselves all over, women would do it on their upper bodies.

Mayans loved getting inked

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10Mayans were good doctors

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The Mayans certainly knew their health and medicine which they believed was a holistic combination of mind body and religion much like ancient medical texts of old. The practice of medicine was reserved only for those who were highly educated and were called shamans. They would act as mediums between the spiritual and physical world and practiced sorcery and foresight as a form of purification and healing.

The Mayans stitched wounds with human hair, were able to set fractures and were also skilled in dentistry. Prosthetic teeth were made from precious stones like jade and turquoise while teeth fillings were done with iron pyrite.

Mayans were good doctors

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9Mayans loved a trance experience

For the Mayans hallucinatory and trance experiences were a spiritual thing. Because of this practice, they had extensive knowledge of entheogens or hallucinogenic substances like psilocybin from magic mushrooms which were used in medicine, ritual and religious ceremonies.

However what puzzles archaeologists is that although not much physical evidence exists to point to the same, Mayan art is full of such references as well as residue collected from artifacts that prove the use and existence of such substances at the time.

Mayans loved a trance experience

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