In Search of the Ancient Maya with William Saturno
This collection contains a selection of content from NG Education about topics related to a National Geographic Live! speaker event. Use search to find more.
Photograph by Tyrone Turner
Speaker William Saturno, Archaeologist
For more than a decade, archaeologist William Saturno has searched for clues to the mysteries of the Classic Maya, carrying out excavations in Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, and Honduras. During this time he’s made some very important Maya discoveries, including the spectacular murals of San Bartolo, and—in the sprawling complex of Xultun—a house whose walls are covered with glyphs that appear to represent calculations of the various cycles of the Maya calendar. A report on this illuminating new discovery appeared in the June 2012 issue of National Geographic. Join Saturno for a lively overview of archaeology’s two-century-long quest for answers about this enigmatic Mesoamerican people, illustrated with colorful imagery and irresistible tales of royal intrigue, backstabbing, and war. The sparks will fly as William Saturno brings to life the events that determined the fate of kingdoms, and how they affect us today.
Find out more about the NG Live! Event: In Search of the Ancient Maya.
On January 16, 378, a Maya king, Jaguar Paw, was killed in what is now Tikal, Guatemala. The conquering army did not destroy the Maya, however—it expanded the Maya sphere of influence to its greatest height.
Take a trip through the land of the feathered serpent with this archeological map of Central America. Half of a two-map set published in October 1968, this educational map features an abundance of information on intriguing civilizations and the temples, pyramids, and ruins they left behind.
Guillermo de Anda is an underwater archeologist who specializes in the search for Mayan artifacts. By diving in caves and cenotes, he is able to recover treasures that have been long lost for hundred of years.
Video. The ancient Maya had their own version of this sort of landscape-altering infrastructure. The region of the Yucatan Peninsula called the “Puuc” [Pook] has no natural water sources -- no streams, lakes, rivers, or springs -- so the Maya had to use ingenuity to figure out how to sus...
Best for: Grades 6+ (ages 11+)
Concepts: ancient civilizations, chultun, engineering, maya, mexico, water
This segment blends the faces of modern day Maya in the Yucatan with recreation actors in ancient Maya costumes, and teaches a final lesson about Mayan "collapse". The Maya are still in the Yucatan. It's just that their existence has changed.
Best for: Grades 6+ (ages 11+)
Concepts: human geography, maya, mexico, modern day
Video. This segment discusses an ancient Mayan city called Xocnacah [Shoke-nuh-kay]. It was a massive city with a central platform structure that rose 30 ft high and held thousands of people in an area the size of 4 football fields!
Archaeologist Stephanie Simms analyzes teeth from a human burial found at an ancient hilltop mansion called "Stairway to Heaven." She’s seeking clues about who lived there. Was this the royal palace of a Mayan king?
This segment explores the significance of caves for the ancient Mayan people. Archeologist Fatima Tec Poole investigates a newly -discovered cave in the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico, and discovers evidence that it was once an important site of Mayan pilgrimage and ritual.