To view this site, you need to have Flash Player 9.0.115 or later installed. Click here to get the latest Flash player.

La Esperanza

Please download the Flash player to see this element.

Crystal Skull
Gladiator Stone
Aztec Canoe
Huipil of Malinche
Sacred Skull

View related by:

» View

Did a Mayan rubber ball contain a human skull?

And did it bounce?

Ancient Mayans played a team sport where both sides try to propel a large rubber ball through a hoop using only their hips (no hands or feet).

The game was known as poc-ta-poc.

Losers didn’t just hang their heads in shame. They lost them.  Their severed heads were thrust on pikes for the cheering crowd to see.

And in the museum, there is a stone carving that seems to show a human skull inside a poc-ta-poc ball.

So historians wonder… Did Mayans really put skulls inside their poc-ta-poc balls?

In our broadcast episode, we recreate a poc-ta-poc ball out of traditional rubber, put a facsimile of a human skull inside, and give it to modern Mexican poc-ta-poc players to try out on the playing field.

What happens?

All is revealed in Museum Secrets: Inside Mexico City’s National Museum of Anthropology.

Further Questions

To find out how pre-Columbian peoples perfected bouncy rubber long before Goodyear, we invite you to visit MIT News.



Joe • #77 • 2014-05-30 23:37:48
No, no human skull in rubber ball. Why would you even asked that? They were not savages like Europeans. Columbus and his men would kill native and sell the bodies as dog food.