Chichen Itza, one
of the largest sites near Cancun, Mexico, has a ball game
court. It is larger than a football field --at about 150 by 40 feet --
it is the largest in the Mundo Maya. The ball game, which was a common
activity of all Mesoamerican peoples and originated about 3,000 B.C.,
had a ritualistic fun
nction for the ancient Maya.
There were two teams -- the number of players depended on
the region where the game was played. Most ball courts had two sloping
parallel walls inset with three round disks called markers or a single
stone ring, at right angles to the ground.
The game appears in various myths, sometimes as a struggle between day and night
deities, or the battles between the gods in the sky and the lords of the
underworld. The ball symbolized the sun, moon, or stars, and the rings
stood for sunrise and sunset, or equinoxes. Ball games
would go on for days (the word lamik being
the name of one of the days). The Maya ball
game was called Pok-A-Tok.
The players scored by touching
the markers or passing the ballwhich was 50 centimeters in diameter
and weighed more than a two poundsthrough the rings. The markers
or rings were several yards above the ground, and the players could only
touch the ball with their elbows, knees or hips. Scoring was considered
such a feat that it usually ended the game.
These games could go on for days.
was played on an odd shaped field. The object of the game was to move
a hard rubber ball without the use of hands or feet. It wasn't real
hard to keep score, since it took
so long to get the ball through the stone hoop.
The losing team was