History KS2 / KS3: Jobs in Maya civilisation

Pupils are introduced to a range of traditional Maya jobs in this entertaining reality TV parody that offers insight into a range of typical careers for Maya men and women.

King Chan Chak K’Ak’Nal Ajaw seeks a new apprentice from different tiers of society and regions inhabited by the Maya –

  • Nicte, a weaver from Belize
  • Jaswaw, a farmer from Honduras
  • Itzayanna, a housewife from Yucatan
  • Balam, an architect from Uxmar
  • Ah Maxam, a merchant from Chichen Itza
  • Yiban, a labourer from San Salvador

The candidates battle it out against traditional expectations to impress the king through a set of challenging tasks, which reflect the demands of the role the king is offering of nobleman.

A humiliating Maya punishment faces the defeated candidates.

This short film is from the BBC series, History of Early Civilisations - Maya. Through parodies of reality TV shows, this series introduces different aspects of the Maya civilisation.

Teacher Notes

Opportunity for individual/group research of each career shown, leading to presentation to class.

Groups/pairs create 20 questions (with answers) from the short film to test the class.

Compile a class glossary of Maya terms. Create a crossword with definitions.

Research the background to the fictional workers and the regions they have come from.

Compile a profile to submit to the king, outlining their qualifications and a ‘business plan’ for what they will bring to the position in their area of expertise in line with Maya innovations.

Devise an additional challenge for the candidates based on Maya traditions.

Compare and contrast British society in parallel times.

Explore the influence on our own history and society of the Maya.

Curriculum Notes

This short film is suitable for teaching history at Key Stages 2 and 3 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and Second and Third Level in Scotland.

More from History of Early Civilisations

Maya Civilisation

Fashion in Maya civilisation
What did Maya houses & buildings look like?
What did the Maya eat?
Mayan Innovations & Inventions



Islamic Golden Age, circa AD900

Jobs in 900AD Baghdad
Great Fashion in Baghdad 900AD
How Houses looked in Baghdad 900AD
Invention & Innovation in Baghdad 900AD
What food did they eat in Baghdad 900AD