I’m just going to put this out there first thing: I love fiction where I get a good story wrapped in history-come-alive or science-up-close or geography-made-interesting or…really, just about anything where I learn a lot and can show off later. (Yep, I’m the person who drops comments at gatherings like, “Well, actually, the Mayans were…”) So obviously, I’m a fan of Fiona Ingram‘s middle grade series’ The Chronicles of the Stone. These books are just packed with fascinating facts interwoven into fun adventures.
Her latest book is all about the Mayans and Aztecs and Mexico and you know what? I think I’ll let Fiona take it from here:
Before I embarked on my children’s books series The Chronicles of the Stone, I had a list of favorite topics, historical subjects I enjoyed reading about or wanted to learn more about. Once I started the adventure series, this was the perfect opportunity to both indulge my list of favorites and create exciting adventures. I knew that somehow, some way my heroes would be swept into the ancient world of the Maya and the Aztecs. I learned so much about Mexico and its history that I hope you’ll read The Temple of the Crystal Timekeeper and learn as much as I did about this amazing country and its history. In the meantime, here are 10 interesting facts you possibly did not know about Mexico, whose official name is the United Mexican States.
- The Olmec people, Mexico’s first complex society, emerged in the southeastern part of the country around 1200 BC. They were later followed by the Maya, the Toltec, and the Aztec peoples. Mexico’s ancient societies built great cities and huge pyramids, created remarkable works of art, and even studied the stars and planets to determine when to plant crops and hold ceremonies.
- The Maya civilization began around 2000 BC and was noted for its hieroglyphic script—the only known fully developed writing system of the pre-Columbian Americas—as well as for its art, architecture, mathematics, calendar, and astronomical system.
- Despite the colonial invasion by the Spanish, the Maya people did not disappear. The largest group of modern Maya is found in the Yucatán region of Mexico. They speak both “Yucatec Maya” and Spanish and are generally integrated into Mexican culture. The Maya have continued to hold on to their unique way of life.
- The Aztec civilization was also highly developed socially, intellectually, and artistically and lasted from 1300 until 1521. Invaders led by the Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés overthrew the Aztecs by force and captured their capital, Tenochtitlan, in 1521, ending Mesoamerica’s last great native civilization.
- The world’s oldest team sport originated in Mexico! This ancient sport, the Mesoamerican ball game, has been around for over 3,500 years and could possibly claim the title of the world’s oldest and first team sport.
- Who invented chocolate? The history of chocolate begins in Mesoamerica. Fermented beverages made from chocolate date back to 1900 BC. The Aztecs believed that cacao seeds were the gift of Quetzalcoatl, the god of wisdom, and the seeds once had so much value that they were used as a form of currency.
- Size wise, Mexico is the 11th most populated country in the world with around 127 million people. Mexico is the 14th largest country by land area. There are 31 states in Mexico as well as the capital city (Mexico City).
- The northern part of Mexico is a desert. Like southern Arizona, this part of Mexico has saguaro cactus, scorpions and rattlesnakes. Water is scarce here. Southern Mexico is a tropical rainforest. Most people live in the middle of the country.
- The Mexican flag has 3 vertical stripes on it―green, red, and white. The green stands for hope, the white for purity, and the red for the blood of the Mexican people.
- Mexico is known for its flora and fauna and is one of the seventeen mega-diverse countries in the world. It is also considered to be second in the world of ecosystems. Mexico houses about thirty-four unaltered ecosystems and a number of parks and monuments. It also has seventeen sanctuaries and twenty-six areas for protected flora and fauna.
Yep, I learned all that and lots more reading Fiona’s book. Come back on September 4th when I review The Temple of the Crystal Timekeeper. And just maybe, you’ll find out what knowledgeable Mayan gems I’ve been showing off at gatherings!