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Exhibition At San Diego Natural History Museum Explores Ancient Maya

Archaeologists found this mask in a tomb in Belize. During ceremonies, royalt...

Credit: National Institute of Culture and History

Above: Archaeologists found this mask in a tomb in Belize. During ceremonies, royalty wore masks on their belts or chests. This deified-ancestor mask linked its owner to the gods, vividly illustrating his power. This is one of more than 200 authentic artifacts included in Maya: Hidden Worlds Revealed.

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Photo credit: Denver Museum of Nature & Science/Rick Wicker

This brightly colored plate made for burial with the dead shows a warrior covered in black body paint, clutching a feathered spear. In his jaguar robes and headdress, he embodies the strength and power of the predatory jungle cat. This is one of more than 200 authentic artifacts included in Maya: Hidden Worlds Revealed.

The San Diego Natural History Museum is rediscovering another civilization Friday with the debut of one of the largest displays of ancient Maya life and culture.

Nearly two months after the end of the museum's King Tut exhibition, the museum will unveil Maya: Hidden Worlds Revealed.

“We are committed to bringing new content-rich traveling exhibitions to San Diego for locals and visitors to enjoy,” Michael Hager, president and CEO of the Museum, said in a news release. "Maya: Hidden Worlds Revealed is the largest exhibition about the ancient Maya ever to be displayed in the United States. We are delighted to be able to offer this exhibition to our guests and hope they walk away feeling as if they’ve learned something new about this important and multifaceted culture."

The exhibition explores Maya architecture and art and includes more than 200 authentic artifacts.

It will be on exhibit through Jan. 3.

Dominique Rissolo, an archeologist at UC San Diego, said the Mayan people contributed tremendously to the math and writing systems used today.

“These were truly American developments,” Rissolo told KPBS Midday Edition on Wednesday. “You can experience these at the museum.”

For more information about the exhibit or museum, go to the museum’s website.

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