Maya Science and Daily Life
Mrs. Allred
5th Grade
An Interesting Find
In 1984 , archaeologists discovered a jar
in a Guatemalan dig. This jar could not be
pulled loose.
They eventually removed it by twisting.
The ancient Maya had invented screw-top
What does this small find tell us about the
Maya people?
Writing System
The Maya Civilization developed a system
of writing based on glyphs
Picture symbols that expressed thoughts and
ideas rather than on an alphabet of letters.
What are some other civilizations that use
picture symbols?
Maya Calendars
The Maya calculated that there were
365.2420 days in a year without special
Modern astronomers, using the latest
technology, measure that year at
365.2422 days.
Maya Solar Calendar
Maya calendar was based on the sun.
It has 18 months with names like Pop and Zip.
1. Why was it important for Maya
priests to develop a calendar?
The priests needed to measure time to
figure out when to hold religious
Sacred Round
260-day calendar that astronomers
This was used to keep track of religious
holidays and other important events.
2. What was the Sacred Round?
The Sacred Round was a 260-day calendar
that kept track of important religious
Inventing Zero
Invented a powerful system of number symbols.
A dot stood for one. A bar stood for five.
A shell stood for zero.
The Maya used the symbol for zero (shell) as a
Ex. 201 or 20
The Maya were among the first in the
World to discover the concept of zero.
3. What contribution did the Maya
make to mathematics?
They developed a system of number
symbols. They used a symbol as a
placeholder and were among the first
people in the world to develop the concept
of zero.
Astronomy and Temples
Temples were built in such a way that the sun
would shine directly on the most important part
of the temple on important days.
In Chichén Itzá, on the spring equinox and the
fall equinox, the rising sun shines on a statue of
a serpent at the base of the pyramid. As the
sun rises, the serpent slithers done the stairs of
the pyramid
Equinox: one of the two days in a year when there is
an equal amount of daytime and nighttime.
4 How did the Maya use their knowledge
of astronomy to locate their temples?
Give an example.
The sun shone directly on the most
important part of the temple. For
example, at Chichén Itzá, on the
equinoxes, the sun shone on a statue of a
How the Maya People Lived
Maya people were farmers.
The main crop was corn. They also grew
beans, squash, sweet potatoes, tomatoes,
and pumpkins.
Farmers lived in one-room huts made out
of mud and grass.
Men/boys farmed. Women/girls cooked,
cleaned, and made clothing and pottery.
Maya people thought that being slightly crossed
eyes was a sign of physical beauty.
Mothers hung a bead from a baby’s nose to help
develop that condition.
They also thought a flat head was a sign of
Strapped newborn babies to a board on their back.
The board would flatten the baby’s soft skull, giving
the child the desired look.
Coming of Age
At age 5, children began to help with chores.
Boys had a white bead braided into his hair.
Girls had a string tied to the waist with a red shell
At age 14, an initiation ceremony was performed
to mark their passage to adulthood.
Priest would cut the bead from the boys hair and a
girl’s mother would cut the string from her daughter’s
Celebrate with family and neighbors.
Marriages were arranged and more like
business deals between families.
Priests were consulted before a marriage
date was set.
Priests consulted the stars and gods to
find a day that would bring good fortune.
Where Did the Maya People Go?
Maya kept careful historical records up
until the 900s.
In the 900s, the writing mysteriously
stopped and temples fell into disrepair.
Archaeologists have theories, but can’t
find anything that would prove any of
them are correct.
Civil War, Disease, Disaster, etc…
Whatever the cause, the once great Maya
cities were abandoned and swallowed up
by the jungle. The Maya scattered. But
the people themselves did not disappear
completely. Today, millions still speak
languages derived from ancient Maya.
5. What happened to the Maya?
No one knows for sure what happened to
the Maya. It could have been a civil war,
deadly disease, invaders, famine or

Maya Science and Daily Life