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Thursday, December 22, 2011

Mysteries of ancient Mayan civilization revealed at Royal Ontario Museum

   One-Tank Trip for Dec. 17/18, 2011
   (c) By Jim Fox

   You don’t have to travel to Mexico or back in time to explore the mysteries of the legendary ancient Mayan civilization.
   Maya: Secrets of Their Ancient World is at the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) in Toronto with about 250 artifacts including sculptures, ceramics, masks and other precious works.
The head of a man with a headdress made out of stucco from Palenque, Chiapas Mexico in the Late Classic Period, 600 to 900 CE. (Handout – Photo credit: CONACULTA-INAH, Jorge Vertiz)

   And, there’s a hotel package for an overnight stay and tickets to the exhibition or to museums and galleries in the Ottawa area.
   There’s also a game-day overnight package to catch a Canadiens hockey game in Montreal.

   Ancient Mesoamerican culture
   Many Maya treasures at the ROM exhibition through April 9 were associated with temples and palaces, with the objects among the most important archaeological finds.
   Mainly dating to the Maya Classic Period from 250 to 900 AD, this “stunning exhibition features objects never before seen in Canada,” said Janet Carding, ROM ceo and director.
A ceramic lid of a jar with a monkey and cacao pods depicted from Tonina, Chiapas Mexico, Late Classic Period, 600 to 900 CE. (Handout – Photo credit: CONACULTA-INAH, Jorge Vertiz
   “This ancient culture, one of astonishing achievement, has long held deep fascination and its allure persists to this day,” she added.
   Widespread interest began in the mid-19th century with the discovery of foliage-clad temples and sculptures among extensive ruins at several sites in Mexico and Central America.
   Since then, archaeologists have unravelled numerous mysteries and resolved many questions regarding the Maya whose first villages were settled by about 1000 BCE.
   By 500 BCE, the Maya world was populated by elaborate pyramids, intricate tombs and other spectacular architecture so closely associated today with the ancient culture.
An incense burner stand depicting the Jaguar God of the Underworld in ceramic from the Mayan Late Classic Period, 600 to 900 AD. (Handout - Photo credit: (CONACULTA.-INAH.-MEX, Jorge Vertiz)
   The Maya’s important artistic and intellectual achievements reached their height during its Classic Period when the society was organized around rulers at cities such as Calakmul, Tikal, Copan and Palenque.
   The exhibition is an international collaboration between the ROM, the National Institute of Anthropology and History of Mexico and the Canadian Museum of Civilization.
   Artifacts illuminate the relationships between the ruling class and the rest of society, revealing aspects of life that had been shrouded in mystery.
ROM exhibition curator Justin Jennings and crew ascending the steps from Pakal’s Tomb, located in the middle of the Temple of the Inscriptions at Palenque, Chiapas Mexico. (Handout - Royal Ontario Museum)
   Maya city states, palace life, rituals and beliefs, including a timely look at what they thought would occur in 2012, are examined.
   Showcased items include the limestone Tablet of the Warriors from Temple XVII, depicting a captured warrior kneeling in front of a king from Palenque with the object’s three panels brought together for the first time.
   There are two exquisitely carved stone doorway lintels, vividly depicting the blood sacrifices performed by Maya nobles.
Vista of Temple of Inscriptions, the archaeological site of Palenque, Chiapas Mexico, in the Late Classic Period, 600 to 800 AD. (Handout – Photo by Justin Jennings)
   Over the holidays, there are special attractions for families visiting the exhibition, said Marilynne Friedman, senior publicist.
   “The annual ROM for the Holidays programming is filled with Maya-themed activities,” she said.
   As well, the Family Adventure Trail is available at the exhibition and on the website for downloading at: www.rom.on.ca/maya/schools
   After leaving the ROM, the exhibition relocates to the Canadian Museum of Civilization in Gatineau/Ottawa from May 18 to Oct. 28.
   Tickets are timed at 30-minute intervals for $25; $22.50, seniors/students; $17, children, four to 14; free children to age three. Reduced prices of $19, $17 and $11, respectively, on Fridays from 4:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. and daily from Dec. 26 to Jan. 7.
   ROM hours: 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., daily; Friday 10 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. www.rom.on.ca/maya; (416) 586-8000
A Mayan vessel with a lid depicting an iguana, jaguar and human hybrid made from ceramic in the Classic Period, 250 to 900 AD. (Handout - Photo Credit: CONACULTA - INAH, Martirene Alcántara)
   Combine an overnight hotel stay at the luxury Fairmont Royal York with Maya tickets.
   The Royal Maya Civilization Package from $251 includes a room for two adults and two children, valet parking, ROM tickets and an Ancient Maya Civilization souvenir guide book, available through April 9. http://www.fairmont.com/royalyork/HotelPackages/family; 1-800-441-1414

   Choose your museum
   Here’s an opportunity to combine a visit to a museum or gallery in the nation’s capital with a hotel stay.
   Four Points by Sheraton Gatineau-Ottawa has a package with a room and tickets to the Museum of Civilization, Canadian War Museum, National Gallery of Canada or the Canadian Museum of Nature.
   Rates are from $149 a night with two museum tickets, free parking and Wi-Fi. www.fourpoints.com/gatineau; 1-866-716-8133

   Hockey night in Montreal
   Le Centre Sheraton hotel in Montreal has a package for Habs hockey fans.
   The special game-day rate from $159 a night is at the hotel located across the street from the Bell Centre.
   This includes games with the Canadiens against the Boston Bruins, Feb. 15; Toronto Maple Leafs, March 3 and April 7; Ottawa Senators, Jan. 14 and March 14; and the Winnipeg Jets, Jan. 4 and Feb. 5. www.lecentresheraton.com; 1-866-716-8101


Jim Fox can be reached at onetanktrips@hotmail.com

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