Chichen Itza's Ball Court
The Yucatan, Mexico
Mexico's largest Mayan ball court reveals many
secrets of how the game was played at Chichen Itza.
The goal appears to have been hitting the ball through
the stone hoop high up on the wall. A close up of that
target is two pictures down on this page.
The carvings here show actual Mayan ball players,
dressed in elaborate costumes. The two men above
carry implements, some form of bat, for hitting the ball.
If you look carefully, the top of each bat takes the form
of a human skull. Far more than a game, Mayan ball
was a ceremonial matter of life and death.
The hoop may look large in close-up, but considering
how high it is placed on the wall, scoring a goal must have
been extremely difficult. Whether you call it the Maya
sports equivalent of overtime or sudden death, the game was
completed once either team scored the first and only goal.
Then came the human sacrifices, which during certain
periods at Chichen Itza apparently included the losing
team's captain, if not the entire defeated squad.
The subject of human sacrifice at Chichen Itza is explored
further on the next page.
If you have a high speed internet connection, watch the
Intrepid Berkeley Explorer's free video of this trip to Central
America and Mexico by clicking on: