The Legend of Lord Eight Deer: An Epic of Ancient Mexico by John Pohl

Eight Deer sized up his opponent standing at the opposite end of the ballcourt. Four Jaguar was fearsome-looking, with an oversize nose and close-set eyes. He had painted his body with long, thick red stripes that looked like blood. All around him stood high-ranking nobles wearing robes of scarlet, purple, and blue. Many sported outrageous displays of jewelry and had their noses pierced with amber, crystal, and turquoise ornaments, while the women wore embroidered capes of rabbit fur. Their faces were painted yellow and their hair was dyed dark blue or purple.

Suddenly, the 10-pound rubber ball fell into the center of the court with a loud thump.The assembled nobles leapt to their feet, shouting as Four Jaguar ran forward and struck the ball with a leather mitt, sending it flying back up into the sky. Eight Deer raced backward to receive, but it was too late. The ball hit the ground with a crack and rolled out of bounds. A referee ran to the center of the court and announced: "And Four Jaguar wins the point!"

Eight Deer was sweating profusely as he glanced over his shoulder at the burly executioner standing behind him. Hisses and boos from the Tilantongo side of the court sent the referee scurrying over....

And so John Pohl brings to life the story of Lord Eight Deer in The Legend of Lord Eight Deer: An Epic of Ancient Mexico. Fearsome-looking, shouting, sweating profusely, hisses and boos, scurrying, blood -what is all the excitement about? In this unit you will learn more about the ancient ballgame by researching primary and secondary sources. You will create presentations based on your research and then play a competitive game against a PE class. You will begin by reviewing what you already know about the Mesoamerican Ballgame. Use a KWL chart from Organizational Charts to organize:
  • what you know about the Mesoamerican Ballgame
  • what you learned based on the above excerpt from The Legend of Lord Eight Deer: An Epic of Ancient Mexico
  • what you want to learn about the game after reading the excerpt
(Find out what happens to Lord Eight Deer by reading Professor Pohl's book located in the Branford High School library.)
The Essential Questions of this unit are:
How can I understand the cultural characteristics of Mesoamerica by studying the Mesoamerican Ballgame?
How does mythology reflect a culture's core beliefs about its origin, identity, place in the universe and about natural phenomena?
How do the stories we read help us understand our world?
How can I utilize primary and secondary sources to research ancient civilizations?
How can I critique authentic texts and primary sources to determine how historical events impact the development of civilization?
How can I use the target language to explain how different cultures express, communicate and instill their most important ideas?
What do artifacts tell us about a culture?
How does archaeology help to trace the changes in the development of civilization?
How does a culture change over time?
Why are certain cultural characteristics enduring?
How can we understand a culture by studying art and architecture?
En Español La Cuestión Esencial-La Pelota Mesoamericana
Listen to Pasatono Orquesta interpret the ancient sounds of Mesoamerica for the participants of the NEH Summer Institute “Mesoamerican Cultures and Their Histories:Spotlight on Oaxaca 2010.

14 Yaa chinuni.mp3 (Right click mp3 and Choose Open in New Tab to listen)
04 Pasodoble s-n.mp3
Listen to E. Michael Whittington, Curator of Pre-Columbian and African Art at the Mint Museum of Art in Charlotte, North Carolina, introduce the Mesoamerican Ballgame.