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ost of the showcased objects have never been seenin Canada, and many, some only recently excavated,are recognized as among the most significantarchaeological finds of this ancient civilization. JanetCarding, the ROM's Director and CEO, states, "This ancient culture,one of astonishing achievement, has long held deep fascination andits allure persists to this day. The more we learn of the Maya, themore our admiration grows.''The exhibition takes a thematic approach through seven distinctsections: The Maya World,The City,Cosmology and Ritual,Writing and Timekeeping,The Palace, Death, and Collapse andSurvival. Each area immerses the visitor in the Maya environmentthrough significant artifacts and effective presentation techniquesthat dramatically recreate the environment in which the Mayalived. Shot on location in Mexico, numerous ROM-producedvideos expand on integral themes including the deciphering ofhieroglyphs, the Classic Maya cosmos, and the persistentmysteries surrounding the Maya Calendar Countdown to 2012.Following a dramatic introduction, The Maya Worldexplores themanners in which the people lived, farmed and hunted. It alsoestablishes that the Maya succeeded so well for so long by workingwith, rather than against, their often challenging environment,using a wide variety of techniques to sustain the population. TheMaya are encountered through a number of objects including acollection of evocative stucco human heads, as well as a numberof remarkable artifacts depicting the region's animals. A charminglidded bowl with a duck's head, and a ceramic whistle shaped asa bird, convey the respect accorded animals in Maya society.Palenque, the renowned Maya city centre is highlighted in The Citysection, making use of a touchable scale model, maps, photos, citysite plans, murals, and a video on the archaeology and its recentexcavation. The main traits of a typical Maya city are examinedincluding a palace, temple-pyramids, tombs, public spaces, as areactivities such as trade, warfare (and sacrifice), recreation, andfashion. Objects include a whimsical ballplayer and the hauntingfigure of a captive - bringing into focus the Maya's goal ofcapturing an opponent in warfare. The section also highlights animportant ancient Maya commodity: chocolate. Maya elite drank awide variety of fermented maize-based drinks, augmented bychocolate during festivals. Dated to 600 - 900 AD is a ceramic lidon which a quirky spider monkey sits, jealously guarding the prizedcacao seeds that were likely contained in the original pot.Cosmology and Ritualhighlights that ritual activities permeated allareas of Maya life. Most cosmological forces, significant earthlyevents, and religious rites were tied to deities, to time, and tocelestial movements through the Maya calendar. Many rituals werereserved for monarchs, linking them to the gods. They believed thatthese relationships were indispensable to societal survival. Some ofMIncense burner stand of noble with glyphic description.34.5 x 24.3 cmStone. Palenque, Chiapas, Mexico. Classic Period (250-900 AD). MuseoAlberto Ruz Lhuillier, Mexico 10-458700. Photo © CONACULTA-INAH THIS INTERNATIONAL COLLABORATIONBETWEEN THE ROM, MEXICO'S NATIONALINSTITUTE OF ANTHROPOLOGY AND HISTORY(INAH), AND THE CANADIAN MUSEUM OFCIVILIZATION (CMC), FEATURES NEARLY 250ARTIFACTS, INCLUDING LARGE SCULPTURES,CERAMICS, MASKS, AND JEWELLERY THATILLUMINATE THE RELATIONSHIPS BETWEEN THEMAYA RULING CLASS AND THE REST OF ITSSOCIETY. THE OBJECTS REVEAL NUMEROUSASPECTS OF MAYA LIFE WHICH, UNTIL THE ENDOF THE 19TH CENTURY, HAD BEEN SHROUDEDIN MYSTERY. THE DISPLAY ALSO INCLUDES ATIMELY LOOK AT WHAT THE MAYA PREDICTEDWOULD OCCUR IN THE YEAR 2012. 23

24these rituals involved blood-letting, a form of auto-sacrifice tobetter commune with ancestors. Among the objects displayed inthis section are large, striking incense burners, or censers, adornedwith representations of ancestral and divine persons.Writing and Timekeepingillustrates that, while the Maya did notinvent writing or the calendar, they advanced these disciplines tohigh levels of sophistication. Most inscriptions on objects andmonuments glorified rulers, commemorating significant events intheir lives. A video highlights that nearly 80 percent of the Maya'sapproximately 900 known signs have been deciphered. Thissection includes a spotlight on the Maya calendar and theenduring 2012 end of days legend.Courtly Lifecontinues to explore the complex royal lifestyle of theClassic Maya elite. The rituals of courtly life are vividly depictedin scenes painted on ceramics, providing a rich source ofinformation on Maya daily life. A beautifully decorated bowl,dated to 600 - 900 AD, portrays a person drinking at a banquet.Feasts to celebrate births, marriages, deaths, harvests, anddiplomatic alliances, showcased their organizers' powers. Thissection demonstrates the Maya rulers' constant engaging in ritualsto justify their dominant roles in society and establish theirrelationships with gods and ancestors. Imposing limestone panels,dated to 600 - 900 AD, clearly illustrate these associations,combining the past and present, the dead and living, and thenatural and supernatural.In Death and Burial, a tomb-like atmosphere pervades. Thissection highlights the mid-20th century revelation that many Mayapyramid-temples were actually tombs. As in many ancient cultures,Maya elite were buried with material goods meant as offerings toassist them on their journey into the afterlife. Discovered in theseroyal burials, these extraordinary artifacts underscore the Mayabelief that, for the chosen few, death initiated a new phase ofexistence. Section highlights include a funerary mask, made ofjade, shell, and obsidian, depicting a Palenque queen.In Collapse and Survival, a broken altar and a shatteredhieroglyphic panel are both poignant reminders of the once-flourishing culture. A limestone stela from Toniná displays thelast-known Long Count date. By the end of the ninth century,many Maya cities were in rapid decline and the tradition of LongCount dating abruptly stopped. This stela's eroded front depictsthe city's last ruler, while the glyphs on its back read 10.4.0.0.0.or January 15, 909 AD. Soon after, Toniná's royal dynasty fell,andits palaces and temples were abandoned. Other objectsshowcased include a stunning pedestal jar, unearthed in 1974 byROM curator David Pendergast at the site of Lamanai, Belize. Theobject is adorned by an effigy combining features of K'awiil, theGod of Royalty, and Chaahk, the Rain God. Excavated from a pitassociated with a man's burial, this jar, found in pieces, has beenmeticulously restored by museum conservators.The exhibition concludes with a positivemessage: while the Spanish Conquesthad a shattering impact on the Maya,the culture has managed to preservetheir language, land, and culture. Today,modern Maya descendants numberapproximately ten million, and arefound living in present-day Mexico,Belize, El Salvador, Guatemala andHonduras. The Maya, once again, are avigorous culture, inspired by theirancestors' great achievements.MAYA: SECRETS OF THEIR ANCIENT WORLDIS ON DISPLAY AT THEROYAL ONTARIO MUSEUM THROUGH APRIL 9, 2012. FOR MOREINFORMATION, VISIT WWW.ROM.ON.CA/MAYATop: Vista of Palace. Archaeological Site of Palenque, Chiapas, Mexico. Late Classic Period600-800 AD. Photo by Justin Jennings, 2011Middle: ROM exhibition curator Dr. Justin Jennings and ROM crew filming on location in thepyramid of the Temple of the Inscriptions at Palenque. Photo © Royal Ontario Museum, 2011Bottom: Monument of a king. 2.34 m x 73.7 cm Stone. Late Classic Period (600-900 AD).Toniná, Chiapas, Mexico. Museo de Sitio Toniná. Photo © CONACULTA-INAH, Jorge Vertiz