As I was walking through the exhibits, I came upon another surprising item: A stone "yoke" reportedly having been used around the hips to bounce the ball hard enough that it would be shot through one of the two rings at the top of the Maya ball courts.
The first clue I had about the yoke was an article about 10 years ago,. It was reported that a test game with a stone yoke place about the hips of a player was successfully played and the player with the weighty stone said it was an easy adjustment to make. It was said, that once the momentum of the player was started, the weight of the stone yoke made it possible to hit the ball harder. Such a yoke on the hips of a player' maybe, would allow the ball to enter one of the rings above their heads.
It was many, many years later, that I saw a good photo of tourists below the ball court rings. How far above, I did not know until a month or so ago. The tourists were standing directly under the rings. But those rings were basically at least a length of two persons standing one above the other over a third person on the ball court floor. In an American baseball game, with a bat swung directly at a ball, it is possible that this sort of height and distance drive is possible, but such a target as two rings above the ball court is not a practical shot.
Even in American football, the goal posts for a good strong kick is placed wide enough apart that any player with good leg power can kick a ball between the goal posts. But to get the ball through a ring on either side of the goal post, or even in the center, it is highly unlikely.
The trajectory would be at an angle, whereas the rings are not set in at an angle, they both are squared off as horizontal and veritcal to the wall. There is no other angle for entry of the ball itself. Maybe in a pool game with sticks called cues are used but there are at least three pockets on one side that the ball can rebound into, but only when that ball hits the bumpers around the table.
Then I remembered a lesson in my Greek classes about Tacitus and his History of Germany. When I first read Tacitus, I found many small insignificant items about the Mexican land masses. At that time, I ignored the impressions that were coming at me.
They were not very believable about Germany, even though they have marshes and lakes; but on the oth er hand, I knew only a little about Mexico geography. The Maya have more coastal waters than Germany which also has similar water configurations that includes many lakes but no estuaries along the coastal areas as Mexico has.
". . . . .poor fighters and evil livers are plunged into mud of marshes with hurdle on their heads. . . ." [Tacitus, p. 281]Hopefully, "livers" is a typo on my part and it really says "divers." Nevertheless, the image of death with a stone near or on top of their head, a yoke would be more feasible, since a common round stone on the head could shift away at any time. Even a flat one would tumble to the side at times. However, a heavy stone yoke would have two heavy legs that would dig into a muddy bottom and pull the face of the warrior into the mud.
It would be impossible for the victim to dig himself out of the mud before he suffocated in the morass. A concerned relative, would want the body salvaged from the mud for a decent burial. A different diver would go into the water and cut the head from the body haphazardly, with one or more vertebra; it did not matter. The stone around the neck might shift at any moment. To take out the body might take longer to cut and there would be no identification for the family. The two "legs" of the yoke made it possible to obtain either the head or the body while the instability of the stone in the mud would make it very difficult to acquire both head and body at the same time.
A German method, or a Mexican method, it make little difference, who was first. A mass grave would not be a sacrificial site, it would have been a mass execution of brave warriors who lost a major battle with the help of efficient divers who knew the waters well enough to sabotage the boats of the enemy. Basically, since all the skulls were in a proper burial grid, not haphazardly or buried within the homes, but were recovered later when the conquerors was had left the area for a time, or were temporarily on another quest.
Why is it so hard for people to understand that all countries around the world honor their dead warriors who fell in major battles, I do not understand. Maybe because our children no longer visit the graves of their soldiers on November 11 any more. They mau just go to the Vet parade and watch it for hours as the tools of the trade move past them. The personal aspect of visiting the dead is missing from our lives. It has been so for many years now.