Exploring the Mayan World

Pack your virtual bag and immerse yourself in the astounding past-and present-of the Mayan world.
Exploring the Mayan World is rated 4.3 out of 5 by 81.
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Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Series, Not So Great Captions The Series Exploring The Mayan World did a great job of giving an overview of a number of sites. Of necessity it could not delve deeply into them (hopefully another set will do just that) but that is to be expected. Two problems (and minor at that) were: 1) Dr. Barnhart tried too hard to be amusing. While the information was good and useful, his "playfulness" was a little grating at first. It took a bit to get used to. This may have been fine on a tour, not so much on a video. 2) The Great Courses needs to do a much better job on their captioning. PLEASE get people who know the topics so that "unintelligible" or such does not appear in the subtitles because the person writing them did not understand what was being said. Someone with a basic knowledge of the subject would be able to make out what was said. Additionally they would know the Maya words. For example WITZ which is the Maya word for mountain was sometimes written properly and sometimes put as "which" in the subtitles. Why did they get it right most of the time, but not all? All in all a fine production and well worth the money. With the exceptions above I would highly recommend this course.
Date published: 2021-09-17
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Exploring the Mayan World This course was advertised with a pyramid on the cover and eight sites listed where there are famous pyramid.I was expecting the latest on the pyramids including Lidar Photography. The efforts of a world class expert were wasted. To top it off it was only 209 min instead of 240. This was more like Create and not Great Courses. Obviously not an update on pyramids as some episodes had almost nothing on the pyramids. A big disappointment. It gives you the feeling it was rushed out just to have another course. How does showing Edwin eating food enhance the course? Why mention lidar photography if you do not use it in the course? Not up to your usual high quality. I returned it.
Date published: 2021-08-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A supplement for Barnhart's course.. ..Ancient MesoAmerica. No Spoilers: We are quite pleased to see that a new format was added allowing Barnhart to take the reigns! I say supplement because for me - this is not a verbose enough dive into the subject. I have watched all of Barnharts' courses and I wrote GCP asking for more Barnhart please. I guess they listened? As a stand alone travel documentary this is perfectly suittable as well. There was a show called "Globe Trekkers" (1990s) if you liked that show, you will like this one - the format of the series is a copy paste deal. I am not saying that is a bad thing, I loved globe trekkers. For those who have not seen Globe Trekkers. Format; The presenter takes the viewer around places the presenter are either familiar with or may be visiting for the first time. The focus is on the people, cultures, and the history. The tourism $ugge$tion$ are included, but it is not the main focus. This is not like your typical travel doc.. I prefer this more person to person version of the places and topics. We do not see the inside of a 5 star hotel that was somehow conveniently on the way to... (no we just got paid by a 5 star hotel to feature it in the doc obviously, sorry for the Advert.) Barnhart will not take us to any of those places. Unless of course the 5 star hotel is historic and related to the subject. Spoiler - the Maya did not have any 5 star hotels.. or if they did, it is now lovingly called "East ceremonial center" or something the archaeologist "creatively" came up with after breakfast. Right? This is a great watch and as a supplement it is wonderful!! I hope to see GCP send our Professor Barnhart to look at more of the Americas in future - there is so so much more. Perhaps another region, or follow the Cheetah glyphs and try and connect the cultures? More Ruins! Great watch, highly recommend!
Date published: 2021-06-13
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Combination history and tourism guide I wanted to learn more about the ancient Mayan culture but instead saw the host inject himself into restaurant reviews and self-promotion. He is definitely passionate about the Mayan culture but I got tired of watching him.
Date published: 2021-05-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Delightful and Informative Tour My wife and I are great fans of Dr. Edwin Barnhard's courses. We have them all and buy new ones as fast as we learn of them! This one is a delightful deviation from the typical lecture format, a video tour of several excellent Maya sites in the northern Yucatan ... and a dip into the local culture and feasting, as well. VERY informative. Very helpful for those who might be thinking of visiting the area, but perhaps even more helpful for those who will never be able to make such a trip and want to know what it's all about. Excellent and thoroughly enjoyable experience!
Date published: 2021-05-03
Rated 2 out of 5 by from While The Sites are Good to See- While the Sites are good to see- The man taking us on this tour should do what Rick Steves does: Stick to speaking Only English. The programs voiced by Rick Steves are well photographed (as are these) but since he only speaks English, this narrator & presenter does not detract from the visual message, by trying to speak in a language in which he is not fluent. To listen to him try to speak Spanish annoys the listener. Then in addition, this presenter has the tendency to 'speak' over (interrupt- which is both unattractive and disrespectful behavior) the Native Speakers (which we are listening to) and are either educating the audience watching and the Spanish speakers, who have purchased this program to learn from - For this and many other reasons I would NOT recommend this as a video I would say to anyone: buy this video and makes the 'rating' only 'fair'. Additional information for the film crew: It is not necessary to focus in on this speakers face or his belly, quite so much. Otherwise, I find my other program purchases with Great Courses, excellent programs.
Date published: 2021-04-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Unique and Fun series!! I have just finished watching this series for the 2nd time! It was great fun to follow Dr. Barnhart through his favorite locations in the Yucatan. I loved that it focussed on the ancient Maya but also on the traditions and lives of the living Maya. Dr. Barnhart's love for the people and his intense interest in the connection between the ancient and the modern makes this a very unique and though provoking set of lectures. I like the format of being on location and would love to see him do more of these Travel series.
Date published: 2021-03-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Guide, Fantastic Photography & community I absolutely love this course and will watch it again. The photography was great, the guide was very personable, the trips to big sites and little restaurants, and the wildlife were are terrific. The cultural information and examples are spot on. It gives me a warm feeling to know that my mom had Mayan ancestry and makes me eager to visit for myself.
Date published: 2021-03-14
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Overview

Join a practicing archaeologist for a spirited virtual tour of the past, present, and future of Maya civilization in the northern Yucatan.

About

Edwin Barnhart
Edwin Barnhart

In my own experience as an explorer, it's almost always the case that the locals knew where lost places were all along. The discoverer is just the first person to ask the right questions.

INSTITUTION

Maya Exploration Center

Dr. Edwin Barnhart is director of the Maya Exploration Center. He holds a Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin and has over 20 years of experience in North, Central, and South America as an archaeologist, explorer, and instructor. In 1994, Professor Barnhart discovered the ancient city of Maax Na (Spider-Monkey House), a major center of the Classic Maya period in northwestern Belize. In 1998 he was invited by the Mexican government to direct the Palenque Mapping Project, a three-year effort to survey and map the unknown sections of Palenque's ruins. The resultant map has been celebrated as one of the most detailed and accurate ever made of a Maya ruin. In 2003, he became the director of Maya Exploration Center, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the study of ancient Maya civilization. The center leads study-abroad courses for college students and tours for the general public in the ruins of the ancient Americas, among its other research and educational activities. Professor Barnhart has taught archaeology and anthropology at Southwest Texas State University, and currently teaches University of Texas travel courses for college professors on ancient Andean and Mesoamerican astronomy, mathematics, and culture. Over the last 10 years, he has appeared multiple times on the History Channel, the Discovery Channel, and Japanese NHK Public Television. He has published over a dozen papers and given presentations at eight international conferences.

By This Expert

Maya to Aztec: Ancient Mesoamerica Revealed
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Ancient Civilizations of North America
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Lost Worlds of South America
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Exploring the Mayan World
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Exploring the Mayan World

Trailer

Mérida

01: Mérida

Start your adventures in the Maya world with a trip to Mérida: the capital of Yucatán and the cultural capital of the entire peninsula. You’ll visit a factory in a run-down hacienda where they’re reviving the industry that made the Yucatán so rich more than 100 years ago; explore the mega-mansions lining Merida’s Paseo de Mont; and go shopping for the perfect hammock and guayabera shirt.

27 min
Chichén Itzá

02: Chichén Itzá

First, travel to Izamal, the “yellow city” named after the Maya sky god. Here, you’ll tour the city’s rich history—including a hike up a pyramid as high as a 10-story building and a walk through the Convent of St. Anthony of Padua, designed as a Christian teaching tool for the Maya. Then, venture on to Chichén Itzá, where you’ll get up close and personal with magnificent achievements of Maya architecture, including an observatory, a ceremonial ball court, and a sacred cenote.

26 min
Ek’ Balam

03: Ek’ Balam

Join Dr. Barnhart for a trip to two of his favorite places in the Yucatán: Valladolid and Ek’ Balam. The first is a city established on the foundations of a Maya city called Zací and offers travelers a chance to see a traditional agave distillery and an all-female troop of competitive horseback riders. The second is the well-preserved ruins of what was once a Maya capital, and it’s where you’ll witness fantastic stucco facades and reenactors demonstrating musical instruments and the Maya ball game.

27 min
Tihosuco

04: Tihosuco

More fun in the Maya world awaits in this fascinating episode where you’ll accompany Dr. Barnhart as he writes his name in Maya hieroglyphs, talks to howler monkeys, plunges into a geological cathedral, and more. It’s all part of his journey to Tihosuco, home to perhaps the largest episode in world history of an oppressed people fighting for their independence. Sites you’ll visit include the Cenote Suytun, Punta Laguna National Park, the Caste War Museum, and the Iglesia de Santo Niño Jesus.

25 min
Mayapán

05: Mayapán

Around 1250, Mayapán replaced Chichén Itzá as the new capital of the Yucatán—and one founded on a league of representational government. In this episode, you’ll get a chance to explore the rich history and culture of the site and its surrounding region. Learn about the infamous destruction of sacred Maya codices during public acts of faith held by the Spanish friar Diego de Landa, sample delicious dishes of grilled pork and ground pumpkin seeds, and spend some time looking over the shoulder of a ceramic artist working to keep Maya artistic traditions alive in the 21st century through reproductions of ancient pottery.

24 min
Uxmal

06: Uxmal

Discover what makes Uxmal such a marvel of Maya urban planning. Dr. Barnhart walks you through archaeological features, including the Pyramid of the Dwarf, the Palace of the Governors, and the Nunnery Quadrangle. Plus, spend some time exploring the Loltún Caves: a site that was once used for religious meditation and rituals, and where you’ll find handprints dating back 10,000 years. Cap off your adventure with a sampling of hot chocolate—made the traditional Maya way.

27 min
Celestún

07: Celestún

Your first stop in this episode is Kabáh, the second-largest ruin featuring the Puuc architectural style, where you’ll find over 200 faces of Chaac the rain god and a rare example of literate public art. Next, visit Bécal, famous for producing some of the best jipijapas (or, as tourists call them, panama hats) in the Yucatán. Finally, take a trip to the Celestún biosphere, a wetland reserve spanning some 150,000 acres that’s famous for the thousands of flamingos that flock there.

25 min
Labná

08: Labná

Labná, the last of the ancient sites you’ll hit on this trip, is an architectural wonder crowned by the three buildings everyone comes here to see: the Palacio, the El Mirador pyramid, and the Labná Arch. After decoding the cultural messages in these famous works, travel back to Mérida, where your journey began. Here, you’ll follow Dr. Barnhart through the Gran Museo del Mundo Maya, watch him sample modern takes on traditional Maya cuisine at a boutique hotel and spa, and catch an evening revival of a Maya ball game in Mérida’s central square.

24 min