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Maya & Aztec Leaders is a live, interactive broadcast from the galleries of the Peabody Museum of Archaeology & Ethnology that compares the way Aztec and Maya leaders visually represent their authority and role through monuments, buildings, and symbols associated with royal power in Maya and Aztec civilizations.

Students learn to read the built landscape to understand the responsibilities and benefits of leadership. A museum educator guides students through the exhibition to show examples of rare stelae, architectural models, altars, a codex and an obsidian sword as he asks and answers students’ questions. A companion PowerPoint slide show provides maps and photographic support to put the artifacts in context. The class is broadcast to your classroom from the Encounters with the Americas galleries.

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About This Program


By Request: $150.00

$150 per group of 50 students although smaller groups (eg 25) are recommended for increased interactivity.

Schools may be eligible for reduced rates based upon free and reduced lunch status. Call reservations to inquire about eligibility.


55-60 minutes

Target Audience

Education: Grade(s) 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

Minimum participants:


Maximum participants:


Primary Disciplines

Social Studies/History /Anthropology /Archaeology

Program Delivery Mode

Videoconference – Webcam/desktop (Zoom, Google Meet, Cisco WebEx, GoToMeeting, Microsoft Teams, etc...)
SkypeGoogle Meets

Booking Information

Book it!

Receive this program and 9 more for one low price when you purchase the CILC Virtual Expeditions package. Learn more

For more information contact CILC at (507) 388-3672

Provider's Cancellation Policy

Cancellations must be made 48 hours prior to the program's start time, otherwise the full fee is charged. There is no cancellation charge for programs cancelled due to weather.

About This Provider

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Harvard Museums of Science & Culture (HMSC)

Cambridge, MA
United States

The Harvard Museums of Science & Culture (HMSC) is a
partnership of four Harvard museums designed to coordinate captivating
programming for all ages, permanent galleries, and dynamic rotating
exhibits. HMSC invites you to connect with Harvard University's
distinctive collections and vital research on human civilizations,
biodiversity, and the history of Earth and science.

Peabody Museum of Archaeology & Ethnology:
From towering Native American totem poles and large Maya sculptures to precious artifacts of the ancient world, the Peabody Museum at Harvard University is among the oldest archaeological and ethnographic museums in the world with one of the finest collections of human cultural history found anywhere. The museum is a member of the Harvard Museums of Science and Culture (HMSC) consortium.

Harvard Museum of the Ancient Near East:
Journey from Egypt to Mesopotamia through galleries that showcase the history, languages, and cultures of the ancient Near East - the region that brought us the alphabet, the pyramids, and other wonders of the ancient world. The museum, founded in 1889, houses more than 40,000 ancient Near Easten artifacts, many from museum-sponsored excavations in Egypt, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Syria, and Tunisia. The Harvard Museum of the Ancient Near East uses these collections to investigate and teach Near Eastern archaeology, history, and culture. The museum is a member of the Harvard Museums of Science and Culture (HMSC) consortium.

Harvard Museum of Natural History:
The Harvard Museum of Natural History was established in
1998 as the public face of three research museums: the Museum of Comparative
Zoology, the Harvard University Herbaria, and the Mineralogical & Geological
Museum. Presenting these incomparable collections and the research of
scientists across the University, the Harvard Museum of Natural History’s
mission is to enhance public understanding and appreciation of the natural
world and the human place in it, sparking curiosity and a spirit of discovery
in people of all ages.

Collection of Historical Scientific Instruments:

The core mission of the Collection of Historical
Scientific Instruments is to preserve, document, and care for over 20,000
instruments portraying the history of science teaching and research at Harvard
from the Colonial period to the 21st century. Through its lively exhibit and
teaching programs, web presence, and increasing involvement in critical media
practices, the CHSI’s research activities and cultural initiatives intersect
and bring together a multiplicity of academic disciplines and areas of
professional museum expertise. The CHSI is both a specialized institution and
an experimental space, where Harvard Faculty and students, instrument scholars
and museum experts meet in the production of object-based knowledge.

Cathy Disanzo

Program Details


1. Deconstruct the details of a stela to learn about Maya visual symbols of kingly divinity.
2.Analyze another stela to observe a Maya king's symbolic display of warriorhood.
3. Discover the underlying architectural plan of the ancient city of Copan to understand a Maya king's role as chief urban planner.
4.Investigate a famous Maya monument (Altar Q) to see how kingly succession is validated
5. Analyze the symbols on an Aztec monument to observe how their emperor's various roles are communicated visually and compare them to those of the Maya.
6. Examine the idea of Aztec tribute by observing a codex.
7. Questions to the presenter may be asked throughout the program.


As a result of this program, students will...
- Enumerate the various roles (warrior, god, priest, athlete, urban planner) of Maya kings
- Compare these to the broader scope of an Aztec emperor
- Decipher key symbols of leadership
- Understand how rulers visually express their authority
- Identify functions in Maya and Aztec city centers

Standards Alignment

National Standards

Program is correlated to the following national standards:
1 National Council of Social Studies (NCSS) Theme VI: Power, Authority and Governance, Grades 5-9

2 National Standards for History World History (NSHWH) Era 4 standard6a: Analyze how monumental architecture and other evidence portrays the lives of elite men and women.

3 NNSHWH Era 5 Standard 6a: Explain major aspects of Aztec governance.

4.Common Core State Standards CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.6-8.7
Integrate visual information (e.g., in charts, graphs, photographs, videos, or maps) with other information in print and digital texts.

State Standards

Program is correlated to the following MA state standards:
Mass standards history and social studies Grade 5.standard 2 and Grade 8, World History 1.Standard 13: Identify major Pre Columbian civilizations (Maya, Inka, Aztec) ....Describe their political structures...art and architecture...