NOVA; Lost King Of The Maya
More material is available from this program at the WGBH Archive. If you are a researcher interested in accessing the collection at WGBH, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Undigitized item: Request Digitization
Untranscribed item: Request Transcription
- Lost King Of The Maya
- Program Number
- Series Description
Premiered March 1974 NOVA is a general-interest documentary series that addresses a single science issue each week. Billed as "science adventures for curious grown-ups" when it first aired in March, 1974, NOVA continues to offer an informative and entertaining approach to a challenging subject. 1996 marked NOVA's 23rd season, which makes it the longest-running science program on national television. It is also one of television's most acclaimed series, having won every major television award, most of them many times over. Series release date: 3/3/1974
- Program Description
Rumble in the jungle Sixteen centuries ago, a mysterious, left-handed warrior seized control of the Mayan city of Copan, founding a dynasty that would last for four hundred years. NOVA pieces together the fascinating puzzle of this mighty monarch, on Lost King of the Maya. The film takes viewers deep into the Central American rain forest to the ruins of Copan, a once majestic jewel of Mayan civilization which was inexplicably abandoned over a thousand years ago. Copan and other lost Mayan cities were not discovered by Europeans until the nineteenth century, when explorers John Lloyd Stephens and Frederick Catherwood stumbled on the vine-strangled remains of huge complexes of temples and monuments covered with strange portraits and hieroglyphs. These had once been thriving centers of art, architecture, and science at a time when Europe was mired in the Dark Ages. They were also scenes of hallucinogenic religious practices, ritual warfare, and human sacrifice, with a bizarre priestly fixation on the planet Venus, which served as a symbolic death star for the Mayans. The key to Copan's history is an elaborately carved, table- sized stone called Altar Q, which is at the heart of a monumental, man-made mountain called the Acropolis. Altar Q shows sixteen human figures, which were long thought to represent a conference of astronomer priests. One of the most puzzling elements of this carving has been translated by Mayan scholar David Stuart. Each of the carved figures sits on a seat that incorporates a name glyph, such as "The Sky is Newly Revealed," "Jaguar Mirror," "18 Are the Images of the God," and others. These are the names of the ancient kings of Copan. The first figure sits on a glyph that simply means lord, and he appears to be dispensing his powers to the sixteenth, and last, king. Scholars assumed the first figure was a god. However, Stuart found the glyph in his headdress identifying him as Yax K'uk Mo, the founder of the dynasty. This theory had striking confirmation when archaeologists excavated the interior of the Acropolis and discovered human remains and adornments like those depicted in Yax K'uk Mo's carving. Notably, the skeleton had fractures indicating the individual was left handed, just like in the carving. Analysis of the bones showed he was from the region west of Copan, just as described in Mayan legend. This was Yax K'uk Mo himself. More excavations and deciphering have filled in the story of Yax K'uk Mo's bloody dynasty a reign founded on mythological prophecies, relentless propaganda, military conquest, and a high-stakes ball game in which the losing side was beheaded.
- Asset Type
- Media Type
- Chicago: “NOVA; Lost King Of The Maya,” 12/22/2001, WGBH Media Library & Archives, accessed August 17, 2018, http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_4EC831F435CB4B0A9BD4F5E54C94EA46.
- MLA: “NOVA; Lost King Of The Maya.” 12/22/2001. WGBH Media Library & Archives. Web. August 17, 2018. <http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_4EC831F435CB4B0A9BD4F5E54C94EA46>.
- APA: NOVA; Lost King Of The Maya. Boston, MA: WGBH Media Library & Archives. Retrieved from http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_4EC831F435CB4B0A9BD4F5E54C94EA46