Want to know more about the Mayan people and their world of mystifying tombs, human sacrifices, ancient languages and amazing architecture? Then Fernbank has the exhibit for you.
The new exhibit — “Maya: Hidden Worlds Revealed” — opens Feb. 13. It is one of the largest exhibitions of ancient Maya that has ever been displayed in the United States, and Fernbank officials promise it will take “guests on a deep dive into a culture and society that has left us marveling in its awe since discovery of ancient Mayan ruins in Central America in the 1839.”
“This fascinating exhibition is filled with hundreds of authentic artifacts that provide a glimpse into the mysterious world of the Maya,” said Dr. Bobbi Hohmann, vice president of Programming and Collections. “’Maya: Hidden Worlds Revealed’ is also very interactive and experiential, allowing you to try your hand at building Maya architecture, putting together pottery, creating textile patterns, and even exploring how the Maya drilled teeth.”
Research and excavation have uncovered a civilization that, during its Classic period (250-900 AD), rivaled any society found in Europe, historians say. Without the use of the wheel, the Maya built extensive, massive and elaborate cities that have captured imaginations for nearly two centuries.
According to Fernbank officials, the exhibit brings together more than 200 authentic artifacts and immersive environments. Visitors to the museum will learn how the Maya built towering temples and created an intricate calendar system while discovering what archaeologists have uncovered about the once-hidden ancient Maya and the unresolved questions about why these ancient cities declined so rapidly.
There are multiple interactive activity stations that include video and simulations. Guests can learn cultural and architectural techniques and view an ancient burial site among other things.
The exhibit is presented in both English and Spanish.
“(The exhibit) gives visitors a glimpse at Maya life – from mighty kings who ruled powerful cities to the artisans and laborers who formed the backbone of their society,” Fernbank said in a statement. “Visitors will also get a close look at the scientific work being carried out at key Maya sites across Central America to understand exactly what is known of the ancient Maya culture. Millions of descendants of this mighty Mesoamerican culture still represent their culture and traditions today.”
Highlights from the exhibit include:
♦ More than 200 authentic artifacts.
♦ Hands-on activities that dig into Maya life during the Classic period.
♦ Visitors can explore Maya architecture — from awe-inspiring temples to the simple homes of common people —including a recreated portion of a famous frieze (a richly ornamented exterior wall portion) from the El Castillo pyramid in Xunantunich.
♦ Visitors can also view a replica of a large-scale carved monument, or stelae, that was erected in the great plaza of a Maya city.
♦ The exhibit also features a re-creation of the elaborate royal tomb of the Great Scrolled Skull in Santa Rita Corozal, a Maya site in Belize.
♦ The exhibit also examines the concepts of ritual and human sacrifice that allowed the Maya to transcend the earthly world and speak with the gods of the underworld.
“Maya: Hidden Worlds Revealed” was created by the Science Museum of Minnesota, the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, and the Museum of Science, Boston.
The exhibit is included with general admission and is free for Fernbank members. Timed, online tickets are required in advance at FernbankMuseum.org and are $20 for adults, $19 for seniors and $18 for children.