Beyond ''Apocalypto'': What Maya Empire Looked Like

Beyond Apocalypto -- What Maya Empire Looked Like
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Frozen in time by a temple mural (shown digitally enhanced) in Mexico's Maya city of Bonampak, noblewomen pierce their tongues in a bloodletting ritual.

Maya royals, who considered this gruesome task an honor, used thorns, flints, and stingray spines to puncture their tongues, ears, and genitals.

The spilled blood was collected on strips of paper and burned in homage to the gods—and in some cases to communicate with ancestors or to commemorate events such as a victory in battle or accession to the throne.

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Computer reconstruction by Doug Stern
 
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