Sharks and the Maya
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Saturday October 27, 2018

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The Maya glyph for shark, 'zook'


Depiction of shark on Olmec monument, La Venta, Mexico


Stylistic representation of a shark from an Early Classic vessel

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Institute of Archaeology (NICH)
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Sharks and the Maya

Top photo, Realistic shark effigy from Lamanai, Belize

Movies like Jaws have created a great fear of the Great White. But letís face it, all sharks look dangerous. Did the ancient Maya have experiences with sharks? You best believe it. Shark teeth have been found at Maya cities, including those in the interior, and as early as 100 AD. Some of them were perforated to be used as jewellery while others were attached to weapons, perhaps to borrow the gruesome might of this formidable creature.

It's likely that traders from coastal Maya cities journeyed to the interior with shark teeth and jaws, bringing stories of the fearsome animals along with them. Still, to get that far inland, it is most likely that teeth would have passed from trader to trader, along with the stories of the hunt.

Images courtesy Institute of Archaeology (NICH) Belize

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