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e w d l u o h ? s a y y h Ma W e h t r e b m e m e r UNIT OVERVIEW
HISTORICAL SKILLS AND CONCEPTS
In this unit, the children will explore the world of the Maya, and especially why most of the Maya seemed to die out around 900 ad.
In this unit, the children will:
CURRICULUM OBJECTIVES In this unit, the children will: • learn about a non-European society – the Mayan civilisation c. 900ad – that provides contrasts with British history • gain a coherent knowledge and understanding of Britain’s past and that of the wider world • know and understand significant aspects of the history of the wider world, including characteristic features of past non-European societies.
CROSS-CURRICULAR LINKS Maths: doing sums in different types of number systems (Lesson 3) Science: exploring the impact of technology on other societies (Lessons 3, 5) Geography: carrying out map work (Lessons 1, 5); learning about rainforest characteristics, agricultural practices in other parts of the world (Lessons 1, 5); learning about climate change and its impact on a society (Lesson 5) Religious education: exploring different aspects of what people believe in (Lessons 2, 4).
THE BIG FINISH Make your own Ma
a codex – a te their own May ea cr n r re ild ch e Th answers to thei containing the – ok an bo ay g M in e ld th fo out ted questions ab ra ne ge lfse n, ow civilisation.
• learn about interpretations – why different historians say different things about the decline of the Maya • learn about similarities and differences as they compare modern-day Maya with the Maya 900 ad • deduce information from studying a different period: they will use the Egyptians as a ‘way in’ to studying the Maya.
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS • What tools did the Maya use? • What foods did the Maya eat? • What did women and children do? • How similar is this to … (e.g. the Egyptians)? • How different is this from … (e.g. the Egyptians)? • What was it like living in the rainforest? • What else do we need to know about this ancient civilisation? • How can we find out about … ?
BACKGROUND INFORMATION The Maya were a Stone Age society in Central America. They first appeared around 2000 bc, but their main period is from around 0 ad to around 1300 ad. There was a big change in the civilisation around 900 ad, when many Mayan cities were deserted and around 90% of the population disappeared. Historians disagree about why this happened. Many historians think the Maya were the most advanced society in America, even though they had no wheels, no metal and no roads. They built up a huge trading empire and some of their cities grew to contain around 50,000 people. They used the rainforest effectively, mainly growing maize and grinding it into flour to make tortillatype bread. They gave the world chocolate, which they drank flavoured with chillies. They also used cocoa beans as currency. The Maya also developed a complex calendar, and had a writing system based on hieroglyphs. They make a perfect contrast with Stone-Age Britain (there are lots of similarities, but also many differences) and also ancient Egypt (pyramids and hieroglyphs) or Shang China (jade and obsidian).
Unit 3 Why should we remember the Maya?
INDEPENDENT LEARNING AREA Mayan peoples had no stringed musical instruments, and they relied on percussion and wind instruments to make their music. (There is a link to a clip of some Mayan music on the Voyagers website.) Have some musical instruments in the Independent Learning Area, and see if the children can reproduce the sound of Mayan music. Instruments such as gourds, pan pipes, etc. might be useful here. You could provide junk materials to allow the children to create their own musical instruments. At the end of the topic, perhaps some of the children could give a concert to the rest of the class.
KEY VOCABULARY • Archaeologist: someone who digs up remains of old societies • Base 20: a maths system based on 20, not 10 like we use • Codex: the Mayan book • Creation myth: a story which explains the beginning of the world • Hieroglyphs: writing that is made of pictures • Interpretation: one person’s point of view based on evidence • Rain forest: an area of forest that contains many tall trees, has high temperatures and lots of rain • Sacrifice: an offering to keep the gods happy • Stelae: stones or wooden posts which have writing on.
Assessment All children can: • understand the way that the Maya lived • count in the Base 20 maths system • appreciate how the Maya fitted in with the climate of the area they lived in. Most children can: • compare the Maya with Stone-Age Britain or ancient Egypt • do sums in the Base 20 maths system • understand some of the reasons put forward for why many Maya died out around 900 ad. Some children can: • ask questions about the evidence we have for the Maya • meaningfully compare the Base 20 maths system with Roman numerals and our own system of numbers • appreciate the lessons that we can learn from the reasons why the Maya declined around 900 ad.
Unit 3 Why should we remember the Maya?
ANCIENT ? THE BOUT LEARN A THE MAYA TODAY E W N A C T 1. WHA LIVES OF THE FROM MAYA
SUCCESS CRITERIA • I know where and how the Maya live today. • I can come up with a series of questions to ask about the Maya 1,000 years ago. • I can use evidence to reach a conclusion, and develop questions that I want answering from my conclusion.
RESOURCES • Voyagers timeline of the Maya • Voyagers map of the Mayan area • Voyagers resource: The Maya today • Voyagers resource: The modern Maya • Voyagers resource: The Mayan children of Guatemala • Voyagers video of Mayan ancient music • Voyagers resource: Foods the Mayans gave us • Voyagers resource: The history of chocolate • Voyagers resource: Maya and chocolate • Voyagers resource: The Mayan goddess of chocolate • Voyagers resource: Significance criteria • Voyagers resource: Similarities and differences.
• To explore the lives of the Maya today, and use this as a way to begin to explore the Maya 1,000 years ago
ACTIVITIES Help the children to locate the area where the Maya lived on a map of the Americas. Point out that this area is rainforest – what do they already know about rainforests? Which other parts of the world have they studied that are covered in rainforest? Which animals live there? What vegetation would they find? How do people live in the rainforest? Ask the children to make a list of questions about the Maya living to explore how they live. This may link to work that the children have done on rainforests, or The Amazon (see Voyagers UKS2 Geography, unit 3). There are about 6 million Maya alive today. How these Maya live can help us to learn about the ancient Maya, as it creates a window into the life of the Maya 1,000 years ago. Use the resources on the Voyagers website to find out how the Maya alive today live: What are their houses like? What food do they grow? What do they wear? Do they live in towns and cities of villages? What products do they make and sell? What is their music like? Why do tourists go to the area the Maya live in? How does this impact on their life? You could split the class into groups and ask each group to research one aspect of Maya life today, which they can then report back to the class. You could make a class display ‘Maya life today’, which each group can contribute to. Using this class display, ask the children to come up with a series of questions that they would like to ask about Mayan life 1,000 years ago. Do they think Mayan life 1,000 years ago would be similar to, or different from, Mayan life today? The children could use the Similarities and differences resource to show their reasonings.
A ALL ABO
Whole class activity: As a class, look at the list of foods the Maya gave us (see the Foods the Mayans gave us resource sheet). Can the class imagine all their favourite meals without any of these? Brainstorm some of your meals that wouldn’t be the same! The most important food for the Maya was maize, but the second most important was chocolate. Find out what the Maya used chocolate for, and how they ate it (use the research guidance resource on the website to help guide the children in their research). You could also ask the children to decide how significant chocolate was to the Maya using the resource sheet Significance criteria). 26
Unit 3 Why should we remember the Maya?
2. WHY DID
ANY GODS M SO VE A YA H
SUCCESS CRITERIA • I know that the Maya had many gods. • I understand some of the reasons why the Maya had so many gods. • I can identify the similarities and differences between the Mayan and the Christian creation myths.
RESOURCES • Voyagers resource: Maya maize god • Voyagers resource: The Mayan creation story myth • Voyagers resource: A list of the main Mayan gods and goddesses • Voyagers resource: Mayan Sacrifice • Voyagers resource: Sacrifice Sacrifice ceremonies • Voyagers resource: Creation myths.
• To find out how the Mayans worshipped their gods, and to compare the Mayan creation myth with the Christian story of creation
ACTIVITIES As a whole class, look at the website Gods and Goddesses of the Maya (see the Voyagers website). Some historians claim that the Maya had over 600 different gods! Can any of the children work out why the Maya had so many gods using this list? Divide the class into groups, and ask each group to use the internet to research the story of one of the gods that they find (use the research guidance resource on the website to help guide the children in their research). Can they find some images of the god they have chosen? Each group then tells the rest of the class about ‘their’ god. Most Mayan farmers grew maize and turned it into flour, which they then baked to create a type of flat bread. Does this explain the importance of ‘the Maize God?’ Prompt the children to give reasons for their answers. As a class, watch the video The Mayan creation myth. Ask the children to jot down some short notes as they watch it, so that they can then re-tell the story themselves. Some questions to help the children to choose which notes to take are: −− Where did the Mayan people believe they came from? −− Who do they believe made them? −− How do they believe they were made? Talk to the children about the creation story in the Bible (the story of Adam and Eve). How similar, and how different, are the two creation myths? What do the two stories tell us about where man came from? As a conclusion, ask the children to decide how important they think religion was to the Maya. You could have a line across your whiteboard, from ‘very important’ to ‘not at all important’, and ask the children to place a mark to indicate where, in their opinion, the answer lies.
Homework: Sacrifice was an important part of the Mayan religion. Only the priests performed a sacrifice, and they were performed in the temples which were usually at the top of pyramids. As a homework activity, ask the children to find out why the Maya carried out sacrifices. What was sacrificed and when? Remember to be sensitive here. If you feel this activity does not suit your cohort, you may want to replace the research activity with an alternative question about Mayan religion – did they have priests and what did they do? 27
Unit 3 Why should we remember the Maya?
IN 2 COUNT CAN YOU
SUCCESS CRITERIA • I can add up using the Mayan counting system. • I can research and explore Mayan technology and achievements. • I can make a judgement about how advanced a society the Maya were.
RESOURCES • Voyagers introduction to Mayan numbers • Voyagers resource: The Mayan number system • Voyagers resource: Mayan scientific achievements • Voyagers resource: The Mayan calendar • Voyagers examples of Mayan art • Voyagers resource: Mayan culture • Voyagers resource: Write your name in Mayan • Voyagers resource: Mayan glyphs.
• To explore Mayan science and technology, and to reach a judgement about how advanced Maya society was
ACTIVITIES Use the links on the Voyagers website to research the Mayan number system. Ask the children to try performing some adding up and subtracting using the Mayan ‘base 20’ system – do they find it easy or hard? You might want to remind the children about the Roman counting system and compare that to the Mayan number system, if you studied that as part of your work on Roman Britain. Ask the children to compare the Mayan number system with our own. Which, in their opinion, is easier to add up in and why? Ask the class to use the internet to research Mayan culture and technology to judge how advanced the Mayan civilisation was. The Mayans created a very complex calendar. It is also said that they invented a process of turning raw rubber from trees into a useable ball for playing a version of football. They also knew about, and could predict, eclipses. Their artwork is also seen as advanced, and is very clearly identifiable as Mayan. Some historians argue that the Maya was the most advanced Meso-American society (Meso means ‘Stone-Age’). From what they have learned already, would your children agree that the Maya were an advanced society? Remind the children that the Maya had no metal, or wheels. So how could they be described as ‘advanced’? Ask children to explain their evidence and their opinions in groups, or as a class discussion.
Homework/Extension activity: The Maya developed a system of writing based on hieroglyphs. Very few Mayan books still exist, but there are lots of inscriptions on stelae (stone slabs) as well as on temple walls. Archaeologists previously found it very difficult to translate Mayan writing, but it is now possible to work out some of their letters and sounds. As a homework activity, ask the children to use the resources to write their name in Mayan. As an extra and very difficult challenge, the children could try to translate some of the text on an image of a stelae or from the front of a temple. 28
Unit 3 Why should we remember the Maya?
YRAMIDS P ND A IES 4. CIT
SUCCESS CRITERIA • I can ask some questions about the Maya based on my previous work on Ancient Egypt. • I can deduce facts about Mayan cities from the archaeological evidence. • I realise that there are some things we cannot tell from archaeology.
RESOURCES • Voyagers resource: Pyramids information sheet • Voyagers resource: List of Mayan cities • Voyagers resource: Cities of the ancient Maya • Voyagers resource: Ancient Mayan cities in Mexico • Voyagers resource: Naachtun a lost city of the Maya • Voyagers resource: Cities of the Maya.
• To explore what we can find out about the Maya from their ancient cities and ask why those deserted cities stayed hidden for so long
ACTIVITIES Use the information sheet Pyramids to discuss Egyptian pyramids with the children, and recap what they have learnt about them. Use what they remember to help the children devise a series of questions about Mayan pyramids. In groups, ask the children to research and answer these questions. Finally, as a class, answer the question What did the Maya use pyramids for? As a hint, you could mention to the children that this links back to work they completed earlier in this Maya unit about gods and sacrifice. Ask the children to use the links on the Voyagers website, and any other information you might have access to, to explore Mayan cities. As a base for their research, some useful questions to ask the children might include: −− −− −− −− −−
When were the Mayan cities built? How big were they? Who lived in them? What different types of buildings were in these cities? Where did their food come from?
Small groups could each research one Mayan city and then feed back to the rest of the class. You might find it useful to have a timeline (say, from 500 bc to 1500 ad, see the Voyagers website for a template) and ask each group to place their city on the timeline. NB: Some of them may have lasted a long time, others may have only existed for a short time. Look at the two news stories on the Voyagers website about recently discovered Mayan cities that have been lost in the jungle for centuries. One of the archaeologists thinks that there are still lots more cities waiting to be discovered. Ask the children why the cities might be lost(remember this is a rainforest area) and why they might now be found (aerial archaeology, new technology, chopping down the rainforest). Ask the children to imagine that they are one of the archaeologists on an expedition into the Guatemalan rainforest, and that they come across what might be a lost city. The children could write a report of their discoveries, or write an adventure story.
Whole class challenge: Tell the children that there is to be a new museum on life in Mayan cities, and the curator has asked them to produce a display panel to appear in the entrance hall of this new museum. This display panel needs to introduce the topic to all the visitors to the new museum. In groups, ask them to devise, design and produce/make the introductory panel. What would they include? What would they leave out? Consider the aesthetics of a display panel, e.g. the need for clarity and large lettering. 29
Unit 3 Why should we remember the Maya?
Mayans ? e h t e r e ll w ent 5. HOW we to their environm adapted
SUCCESS CRITERIA • I understand that most of the Maya disappeared around 900 ad. • I know that historians disagree about why this happened. • I can begin to develop my own interpretation of events around 900 ad.
RESOURCES • Voyagers resource: Maya agriculture • Voyagers resource: Ancient Mayan farming • Voyagers resource: Mayan theories worksheet • The fall of the Maya: what happened around 900 ad? • Voyagers resource: What happened to the Maya? • Voyagers resource: The decline of the Maya • Voyagers resource: (For teachers) Maya trade and economy.
• To try to explain what happened to most of the Maya around 900 ad
ACTIVITIES Ask the children to recap what they learned about the climate and vegetation where the Maya lived, and about which foods the Maya grew (the children learnt about this in their first lesson on the Maya). Ask them to research ways that the Maya used the rainforest to grow their food. Report back to the rest of the class. What does the class think might have happened to the Maya as their population grew? Remember, some of the Mayan cities around 900 ad had a population of up to 50,000. How vulnerable do the children think the Maya were to things like climate change? Ask the class to make a list of all the theories that historians have put forward to explain why 90% of the Mayan population died out around 900 ad. For each theory, make a list of all the evidence used to support that theory. Then score each theory out of 10 (10 being most likely to be true, 1 being least likely to be true). You could use the Maya theories worksheet to help you do this. Ask the children if they can explain why there are so many different theories about the decline of the Maya (NB: we have deliberately not included the theory that suggests the Maya were abducted by a flying saucer – this imaginative theory appears on the internet a lot, but there is no evidence at all to support it!). Each of the theories they have discovered is an interpretation by one or more historians, based on the evidence they have discovered. Hopefully the children will have realised that by using different evidence, you can come to a different conclusion. Can the class come up with just one explanation they can all agree with, to explain why most Maya disappeared around 900 ad?
Whole class challenge: The Maya were a Stone-Age society. They used obsidian to make weapons, limestone to build their pyramids, salt for their health and to preserve their food, flint for tools, jade for ornaments and quetzal feathers on the headdresses for priests and kings. Set the class a challenge to find out where each of these resources came from, which trade routes they used to reach Mayan cities, how they were transported in a country without roads, horses and carts. As a conclusion, ask the class to decide if they think the Maya were a successful society. 30
Unit 3 Why should we remember the Maya?
e your ow it r W : ISH IN 6. THE BIG F olding) book codex (f
SUCCESS CRITERIA • I can check to see that all my questions have been answered. • I will produce a completed Maya codex.
RESOURCES • List of questions generated in the Maya unit 1 lesson • Voyagers resource: An introduction to Maya codices • Voyagers image of a Mayan codex • Example image of a finished result of a Mayan codex for the children to see • Voyagers resource: How to make a codex.
• To make a Maya folding book, which includes the answers to questions the children posed in Lesson 1
ACTIVITIES In the first lesson of this unit, the children were asked to make a list of questions about the Maya. Revisit that list with the children and discuss which questions the class can now answer, and which still need answering. If some questions still need answering then ask the class to find the answers. With the whole class, discuss Mayan codices (singular: codex) or folding books. There are only four still in existence – all the others were destroyed by the Spanish conquistadors because they were Pagan books. Post some questions for the children to think about, and research, e.g. −− How were the codices made? (They had fig-bark covers and were made of folded sheets of paper.) −− What did they contain? (The history of the Mayan peoples, their gods, kings and major events.) −− Where are they now? −− How do you think they ended up where they are? Discuss what the children think ought to be in their own Mayan book. They could decide whether to write their book, or the title and their names in Mayan hieroglyphs or in English. They could also choose to include illustrations. Make a list of the answers that they will also be including. Either in groups, or as individuals, ask the children to produce their own Mayan book or codex. They might need some help in designing the folding book (see links on the Voyagers website for this) but they should be able to decide on the contents and style without assistance.
Whole class challenge: As a class, return to the discussion questions from the beginning of this unit. Can the children answer these questions now, based on what they have learned in this unit? Ask each question to the class and invite the children to share their thoughts on each.