The ancient Maya are famous for their knowledge of the stars. Theidea of time fascinated them. Like the Egyptians, they builtpyramids, often elaborately adorned with murals and elaboratearchitectural details.The Maya civilization was very advanced, perhaps, the mostadvanced of all ancient Mesoamerican cultures.The Maya civilization flourished in Central America .The MayaWorld, as is known today, comprises mainly, five countries :Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and Belize.
Classic Maya culture developed in three regions in Mesoamerica. By far the most complete urban developments were in the lowlands in the "central region" of southern Guatemala. This region is a drainage basin about sixty miles long and twenty miles wide and covered by tropical rain forest. The Mayas are only one of two peoples to develop an urban culture in a tropical ranest. The principal city in this region was Tikal. The most Southern Mayan city was Copan in northern Pque. The other major region of Mayan growth was the Yucatan peninsula making up the northern and eastern portions of modern-day Guatemala. This is a dry region but city centers were built including Chichen Itza and Uxmal (pronounced "Oosh-mal") After the Classic Mayan cities were abandoned, the Yucatán peninsula became the main region of a new, culture called Toltec-Mayan which was formed when Toltecs coming from the north mixed with the native Maya peoples The Mayans built very sophisticated city centers. They understood astronomy and mathematics and had the most developed and complexsystem of writing in the Americas. Almost all the urban centers were built in tropical rain forest. This is the probably the biggest reason why the Mayans never developed a fully urban culture. Topical rain forest is difficult to live in. and can only support small groups of humans.While plant and animal growth seems almost out of control and therains never stop, tropical rain forest makes very poor farming land.A greater amount of area is required to support each person—andpeople tend to spread out rather than form cities.
They developed astronomy, calendar systems and writing. Theybuilt elaborate pyramids and observatories, all without metal tools.They were highly skilled as potters and weavers Their centers beganto decline around AD 900, for reasons still unknown. Some of thecenters continued until the Spanish arrived in the 16th century.Classic Maya culture developed in three regions in Mesoamerica.By far the most complete urban developments were in the lowlandsin the "central region" of southern Guatemala. This region is adrainage basin about sixty miles long and twenty miles wide andcovered by tropical rain forest.The Mayas are only one of two peoples to develop an urban culturein a tropical rainforest.The principal city in this region wasTikal. The most SouthernMayan city was Copan in northern Honduras. In the Guatemalanhighlands to the north, Mayan culture developed less fully. Thehighlands seem to have been the main suppliers of raw materials tothe central urban centers.A very large center is Palenque. The other major region of Mayangrowth was the Yucatan peninsula making up the northern andeastern portions of modern-day Guatemala. This is a dry region butcity centers were built including Chichen Itza and Uxmal(pronounced "Oosh-mal") After the Classic Mayan cities wereabandoned, the Yucatán peninsula became the main region of anew, culture called Toltec-Mayan which was formed when Toltecscoming from the north mixed with the native Maya peoplesAlmost all the urban centers were built in tropical rain forest. This isthe probably the biggest reason why the Mayans never developed a
fully urban culture. Topical rain forest is difficult to live in. and can only support small groups of humans.While plant and animal growth seems almost out of control and therains never stop, tropical rain forest makes very poor farming land. Agreater amount of area is required to support each person—andpeople tend to spread out rather than form cities.There may never more than 30 people per square mile during theclassic period.So the Mayan accomplishments are truly awe-inspiring.Like the Egyptians, the Mayas are well known for pyramids, which vary in shape depending onwhere they were built. The Maya occupied the Yucatán Peninsula of Mexico.The civilization was formed as early as 1500 BC.The Mayan religion centered around the worship of many nature gods. Their amazingarchitecture remain as great ruins at centers they used for religious ceremonies, includingPalenque, Uxmal, Copán, Tikal and Chichén Itzá.They developed astronomy, calendar systems and writing. They built observatories to watchstars. They were highly skilled as potters and weavers.About AD 300 to 900 the major centers including Palenque, Tikal, and Copán weremysteriously abandoned. The reasons are still unknown. A few centers continued until theSpanish arrived in the 16th century.1200-1000 Olmec1800-900 Early Preclassic Maya900-300 Middle Preclassic Maya300 B.C. - A.D. 250 Late Preclassic Maya250-600 Early Classic Maya600-900 Late Classic Maya900-1500 Post Classic Maya1521-1821 Colonial period1821- today Independent Mexico11,000 The first hunter-gatherers settle in the Maya highlands and lowlands.3114-3113 The creation of the world takes place, according to the Maya Long Count calendar.2000 The rise of the Olmec civilization, from which many aspects of Maya culture are derived.Village farming becomes established throughout Maya regions.700 Mayan Writing is developed.400 The earliest known solar calendars are carved in stone.300 The Maya adopt the idea of a society ruled by nobles and kings.100 The city of Teotihuacán is founded in the rainforest and for hundreds of years is thecultural, religious and trading centre
100 Decline of the Olmecs.400 Maya highlands are under the domination of Teotihuacán The end of Maya culture andlanguage begins in some parts of the region500 Tikal becomes the first great Maya city. Citizens from Teotihuacán arrive, with new ideasfor weapons, and human devotion.600 A mysterious event destroys Teotihuacán. Tikal becomes the largest city in Mesoamérica.Tours still run to Tikal today.683 At age 80, The Emperor Pacal dies . He is buried in the Temple of the Inscriptions atPalenque. Mayan Pyramids can still be seen today751 Trade between Maya areas declines and conflict increases.869 In Tikal, construction stops and the city begins to come to an end.899 Tikal is abandoned.900 The Classic Period of Maya history ends, with the collapse of the southern lowland cities.Maya cities in the northern Yucatán continue to thrive. Development of the Puuc style inUxmal, Kabah and Labná.1200 Northern Maya cities begin to be abandoned.1224 The city of Chichén Itzá in Yucatan is abandoned by the Toltecs. The Itzá people settle inthe deserted area.1244 The Itzá leave Chichén Itzá Mexico for unknown reasons1263 The Itzá begin building the city of Mayapán.1283 Mayapán becomes the capital of Yucatán1441 Mayapán is abandoned by 1461. After this, warring groups compete to rule over theothers.1517 The Spanish first arrive on the shores of Yucatán under Hernández de Córdoba, Thearrival of the Spanish brings diseases to the Maya including smallpox, influenza and measles.Within a century, 90 per cent of Mesoaméricas native populations will have died.1519 Hernán Cortés begins exploring Yucatán.1524 Cortés meets the Itzá people, the last of the Maya to remain free of the Spanish.1528 The Spanish begin their conquest of the northern Maya. The Maya fight back1541 The Spanish conquer the Maya.1542 The Spanish establish a capital city at Mérida in Yucatán.1695 The ruins of Tikal in Guatamela are discovered by a Spanish priest, who had become lostin the jungle.1697 The city of Tayasal, capital of the Itzá in the Petén, is taken by the Spanish. It was the lastMaya independent political entity1712 The Maya of the Chiapas highlands rise against the Mexican government. They continueto do so off and on until today.1821 Mexico becomes independent from Spain.1839 American diplomat and amateur archaeologist John Lloyd Stephens and English artistFrederick Catherwood begin exploring Maya regions1847 The Yucatán Maya rise up against the Mexican government. The rebellion is sosuccessful that the Maya almost take over the entire peninsula in the "War of the Castes".1910 The Mexican Revolution begins.1952 The Priest-king Pacals tomb at Palenque is discovered1962 Maya hieroglyphic signs are first catalogued . Looting of Maya tombs and sites beginsaround this time in the southern lowlands. Today the Maya homeland is being studied by archaeologists. They unearth buildings to reconstruct local cultures. They date and compare artifacts to determine where the Maya traded and what their daily lives were like. They work with botanists, who study ancient pollen to detect changes in the climate and environment, and art historians who examine art and architecture.
Epigraphers decipher hieroglyphs to recover the history and stories from the Mayas. Just 30years ago, a team of scientists figured out that the Maya clearly used complex sentencestructure. Before then scientists thought the glyphs (the pictures that stand for words) werelists of dates and heroic feats. The Maya wrote stories that used plays on words and otherlanguage techniques. Led by expert scientists, hundreds of students continue to solve themysteries. They work in thatched huts and work under the direction of Maya archaeologists