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The Meaning and Ritual of the Pre-Columbian Ballgame

The understanding of ritual and meaning of the ballgame in different Pre-Columbian cultures from 1700 BCE.

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Pre-Columbian ballgame was known among many cultures in Mesoamerica. There is no uniform ballgame; the sport had different forms in different cultures (around 1300 ballcourts distributed over 1000 sites are known - Blomster 2012: 8020). The ball was very heavy and protective clothing was required to avoid significant injuries. The variation of the pre-Columbian game is still played in Mexico; it is called ulama (Leyenaar 2001).

Ceramic figurines (El Opeño, Michoacan), dating to 1700 BCE evidence early form of the game. However, the oldest known ballcourt (Paso de la Amada, Chiapas) dates to 1600 BCE, and the ritual paraphernalia (rubber balls from Olmec site in San Lorenzo) and game ideology appeared around 1400 BCE; it is related with the spread of the Olmec style across Mesoamerica (Blomster 2012: 8020). Many Olmec-style sculptures are representations of the ball players (for example, Monument 34 - http://arttattler.com/archiveolmec.html). The ballgame, associated with the creation of complex societies, spread all over Mesoamerica, together with the Olmec style.

Ballgame was wide-spread in the classic Maya cities (300-900 CE) (Miller and Martin 2004). ...

Solution Summary

This solution is comprised of an explanation of the meaning and ritual of the Pre-Columbian ballgame. Supplemented with suggested readings and more than 430 words of text, this explanation provides students with the brief description of the ballgame in different Pre-Columbian cultures.