Teaching Ideas

Encouraging Dialogue

For Students K-12

  • Whether they are simple arrowheads or complex shapes like this, objects made from flint are formed by chipping or flaking away excess stone. The edge of the flint is very sharp, almost like broken glass, which is why flints make good blades and arrowheads. Forming the complex shape of this object would have required many, many hours of skilled labor by a very experienced knapper, or flint maker. Does this flint look heavy or light? If you could touch this object, how do you think it would feel?

  • Read the title. How does the word "eccentric" relate to this object?

  • With your finger in the air, trace the line formed by the edge. How would you describe this line?

  • For the ancient Maya, this outline or silhouette represented a great beast that looked something like a crocodile. Find the parts of this "crocodile." Look for a long body and a mouth full of teeth.

  • There are three figures on the back of the crocodile. Look at the arcing curve of the "crocodile" and the backward lean of the three passengers on his back. What is happening here? This flint represents a canoe in a shape of a crocodile as it plunges into the waters of the Maya Underworld. It carries First Father, the ancestor of all the Maya people, and two attendants. First Father plays an important part in the Maya creation stories. Here is a shortened version of this story:
    First Father loses a ball game against the Lords of Death, forfeits his life, and is taken into the Underworld by the crocodile canoe.
    Attendants paddle the canoe taking the First Father to the Place of Creation.
    When the canoe arrives with its precious cargo at the Place of Creation, First Father comes back to life as the Maize God.

Making Connections

  • Research a creation story from another culture. Create a work of art that depicts this creation story.