Social Studies, Science, Geography
3 minutes, 31 seconds
Archaeologist Stephanie Simms analyzes teeth from a human burial found at an ancient hilltop mansion called "Stairway to Heaven". She's seeking clues about who lived there. Was this the royal palace of a Mayan king? Hard to believe, scientific analysis of teeth can yield valuable data about what life was like for the residents there. The 1200-year-old plaque contains traces of food, which reveal the Mayan diet was rich and diverse. They were skilled cooks who used a wide variety of foods and spices in their recipes. Though its not covered in the film, Stephanie is recreating some of those recipes from data gleaned from the teeth. Stephanie also finds unique tooth carvings where precious stones ("tooth jewelry") would have been implanted. Many people have a misconception that life for ancient Maya peasants was rough and poor, but this new evidence shows some Maya lived a very comfortable and prosperous "middle class" existence.