This new The Ancient Maya, by Alberto Ruz Lhuillier, does not set out to solve all the mysteries of the Maya Civilization, but rather to give the non-specialist reader an ample and systematic vision of that complex culture. With great clarity, the author analyses different aspects of Maya Culture, such as geographic situation, the economic life, material conditions, social and political organization and the Maya's scientific knowledge and achievements.
Alberto Ruz Lhuillier (Paris, 1906 - Mexico, 1979) was one of the world's leading Maya specialists. He discovered the tomb in the Temple of the Inscriptions at Palenque and is considered to be a pillar of Mexican Anthropology.
"The Maya, in common with other Mesoamerican groups, believed that illnesses could have both natural and supernatural causes. To treat illnesses due to natural causes the healers first determined the symptoms and then made use of the vast supply of natural cures available (animal, mineral and plant), prescribed in a variety of different forms. Amongst these were infusions, poultices, and ointments. Hundreds of recipes used to cure many aches and pains have been collected from colonial documents, and a great number of these prehispanic remedies are still used today and their effectiveness is well proven.
Illnesses caused by "bad winds" or by enemies, those provoked by failure to fulfill religious obligations or for any other unknown reasons were considered to have magic or supernatural origins. It was also necessary to cure them by these means. "The Ritual of the Bacabs", a manuscript written in Maya and translated into Spanish, records many spells as well as medical prescriptions. Cure by faith healers (brujos) is still a common practice today for sicknesses of supernatural origin."