Lesson 204: Two Millenia of Mayas: Guatemala’s Cultural Legacy

Archaeologists have only recently begun to restore the important Maya city of Ceibal, situated along the Passion River deep in the Petén forest of Guatemala. We travel to the site with scientists directing the latest excavations and visit the homes of the Maya workers who are restoring the site.

Learning Objective

Students will learn about the Mayan city of Ceibal where archaeologists completed restorations.

Social Studies Standards

Culture A,C,D

Discussion Prompts

  • David Yetman compares archaeology work to a jigsaw puzzle. Describe why he makes this comparison.
  • If you were an archaeologist, what would be your favorite part of the job and your least favorite part and why? What skills would you need to have to do the job?
  • Describe the use of wild rubber on the Passion River and why pioneers collected and sold this.
  • What are some of the reasons that they wanted to excavate and restore Ceibal?

Lesson Activities

  • Imagine you are an archaeologist at Alfredo’s laboratory and list and describe the steps you would take to restore the items from the excavation.
  • Create a chart comparing the differences between the two major time periods: the Preclassic and Classic period and how this affected the archaeologist’s excavation.
  • Write an informational report about the history of the Mayan civilization incorporating the description archaeologists give about sacrificial slayings.
  • Research the Mayan city of Ceibal and create a tourist brochure that includes information and visuals about both the Passion River and the Petén forest.


  • artifacts
  • archiving
  • citadel
  • decapitated
  • interred
  • invaders
  • laboratory
  • monitoring
  • sacrificial
  • sensational