Mayan civilisation – KQ5 – Mayan civilization and human sacrifice

KQ5 If the Maya were so civilized why then did they carry out human sacrifice? SMART TASK

Please note that this can be a delicate issue to be treated with care. Whilst some pupils will be quite blasé about human sacrifices, others will not. We have deliberately tried to downplay this aspect but it would be a gross distortion of what was a central element of Mayan beliefs if we avoided discussing it altogether.

Step 1

Start with showing slide 2. Can pupils work out what is happening. We would hope that they would realise it was: a sacrifice of an important animal; during a ritual ceremony; conducted by important priests in ceremonial headdresses; that there was incense being burnt; that the execution block is decorated with glyphs. These points are all highlighted on slide 3 which could be used for focussing feedback. Slide 4 then offers a little more detail about the sacrifices and begs the question (shown on slide 5) as to whether the Maya were bloodthirsty of not. A quick tour of a few sources, from the time and one of a cenote, might lead pupils’ thinking in a certain direction. Specifically, slide 6 shows a battle

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