Articles Tagged with: maya

Women’s History Month: Female Rulers from World History

World History and Women’s History Month

As we begin Women’s History Month 2018, we take a look back through world history to discover the powerful female rulers of ancient civilizations. In Egypt, Byzantium, and Maya, women served as pharaohs, empresses, and queens. Some made extremely important accomplishments for their respective civilizations.

Hatshepsut: The Female Pharoah

Women's History Month: Remembering HatshepsutHatshepsut’s reign as pharoah began in 1479 B.C. and lasted over two decades until 1458 B.C. She ruled for the longest out of any of Egypt’s female rulers. Egyptologists consider her to be the most successful female ruler in ancient Egypt. In fact, many consider her one of Egypt’s most successful rulers overall. However, after her death, others tried to erase most evidence of her reign.  This fascinating Ted Ed talk goes in to how her time as pharaoh was erased by those who succeeded her on the throne. Details about her life didn’t begin to arise until the 19th and 20th century and evolved over time to recognize her accomplishments. Our modern understanding of Hatshepsut is far different than it used to be.

The only portrayals of Hatshepsut as a woman come from her early years on the throne. Later on, statues and likenesses portrayed her as a man, complete with the traditional fake beard that many pharaohs wore. Ambitious building projects and a trading expedition to the land of Punt that brought back exotic goods like ivory and incense mark notable points of her reign.

Teach your students about Hatshepsut with this lesson plan comparing her rule to Ramses II from the UCI History Project. Alternatively, go through all of Egypt’s greatest rulers, including Hatshepsut with a lesson from PBS.

Theodora: Empress of Byzantine

Women's History Month: Remembering Theodora of ByzantiumTheodora rose to power after being born into the lowest class of Byzantine (or Eastern Roman) society. She began her life on the outskirts of the empire with her father, an animal trainer. After her father’s death, Theodora became an actress to support the family. However, this scandalous profession made it so Theodora had to scramble and seize every chance to move up in society. Her future husband Justinian began his life from similarly humble roots and changed a law forbidding his marriage to a former actress in order to marry her. Their origins are explained in this great Extra History video which also includes many more videos on parts of their reign.

The husband and wife ruled as equals. Theodora guided Justinian through religious unrest during his rule and passed laws to expand the rights of women. Even after her death, her influence remained evident in Justinian’s later rule where he continued to strive to help women and other persecuted groups.

Get your students to learn more about Theodora with a large amount of resources from Teachers Pay Teachers.

The Powerful Queens of Maya

Women's History Month: Remembering Queens of MayaWe learn more and more about the queens of Maya as time goes on, and much of their lives remain undiscovered. Lady Yohl Ik’nal is the first recorded female ruler in Maya history and one of a few to bear a full royal title. Also, Lady Six Sky oversaw the city of Naranjo, commissioning several monuments and engaging in conquest during her reign. Finally, Lady K’abel, whose likely tomb was discovered in 2012, served as queen and military governer of the Wak kingdom.

Whether or not the queens of Maya were sometimes “warrior queens” is still a subject of archaeological study. In 2014, sculptures discovered in Naachtun showed both kings and queens as conquering heroes. Either way, they likely wielded considerable power at points in the history of Maya

For a historical fiction account of the lives of Maya’s queens, try out the Mists of Palenque series of books. For a general lesson plan on Maya civilization, check out some Scholastic resources.

Discovering the Role of Women through Archaeology in our Excavate! Series

Excavate! Byzantine portfolio image for social studies game

While our Excavate! games don’t focus on specific rulers, each one explores the role of women in ancient societies. Learn more by playing Excavate! Egypt, Excavate! Byzantine, Excavate! Mesoamerica, or any of our other three civilizations! If we missed one of your favorite examples of female rulers from history in this Women’s History Month post, let us know!

Learn about women through history and more!
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Can Spring Break be *gasp* educational?

It’s the bright spot at the end of a long, gray winter for millions of Americans – Spring Break. If you are looking for sunshine and clear, blue water then look no further than the Caribbean coast of Mexico. Cancun, Riviera Maya, and Tulum all are very popular locations for an amazing getaway. What most people don’t know is that this area is also incredibly rich in history and culture and offers a chance to explore an ancient civilization. Get a head start on that exploration by playing our games featuring ancient Maya!

While the area around Cancun is spotted with ancient sites, the biggest and most well known is Chichen Itza. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and home to the massive Maya pyramid known as El Castillo. You can wander the well-preserved massive complex of temples and ball courts and even catch a light and sound show every night. There are many tour companies and options to visit Chichen Itza and typically you can add in another site (Tulum, Coba, Ek Balam) . Be prepared as these tours are typically all-day affairs, but well worth it! Some of them will include tour guides, but some will not.

There is also a little-known site right in the Hotel Zone of Cancun called “El Rey”. The entry fee is a whopping 50 pesos (about $2.50 USD) and you can climb and explore all of the ruins. You can also pay about $5 for a guide to show you around and explain the details. This is a great option if you don’t have the time or money to go to a bigger site.

If you decide that this is a the right opportunity for you and your family, consider preparing your kids to see these sites and be even more engaged. Currently, Dig-It Games has 3 games about the ancient Maya: Mayan Mysteries, Excavate!, and Loot Pursuit: Maya. All of these games will let children explore the sites and artifacts. This way, they will have some knowledge of Maya traditions and the location even before setting foot at the site.

Allow your child to be the expert and guide you through the sites. The amazing part of game-based learning is they won’t even realize how much information they are acquiring. They’ll be so excited to show you what they learned! Check out our game store for more.