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The Maya - Facts & Summary
Mayan civilisation was one of the most dominating Mesoamerican tribes (a concept used by Mexico and Central America before the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries conquests of Spain). In contrast to other dispersed Mesoamerican tribes, the Maya were concentrated in a geographic bloc that included the entire Yucatan peninsula and present-day Guatemala, Belize and parts of the states of Tabasco and Chiapas in Mexico, as well as the west of Honduras and El Salvador.
These concentrations showed that the Maya were relatively safe from invasions by other Meso-American nations. There was only one of the first Mayan but in the pre-classical period a great variety of different Mayan tribes evolved. Today, about 5 million Mexicans and Central Americans are fluent in about 70 Mayan and most of them are bi-lingual in Spanish.
On the Yucatan Peninsula, the Peten Plains in the north of Guatemala and parts of Mexico, Belize and West Honduras, and the Mayan highland in the mountains of the south.
The Maya of the South Lowlands in particular peaked in the classical period of Mayan civilisation (250 to 900 AD), building the great rock towns and memorials that attracted discoverers and scientists from the area. Early Mayan colonies date from around 1800 B.C., the beginning of the so-called pre-classical period or formation.
First Maya were cultivated plants like sweet maize, coffee and bean, pumpkin and chimich. In the middle pre-classical period, which continued until about 300 BC, Mayan peasants began to develop their activities in both the highlands and lowlands. In the middle pre-classical period, the first great Meso-American civilisation, the Olmecs, also emerged.
The Maya, like other Mesoamerican nations such as the Zapotecs, Totonac, Teotihuacán and Aztecs, have deduced a number of regional religions and cultures as well as their numerical system and popular calendars from the Olmecs. Besides farming, the pre-classical Maya also showed more sophisticated cultures such as pyramidal architecture, urban planning and the inscription of rock relics.
Mirador, a late-classic town in the north of the Peeten, was one of the largest towns ever to have been constructed in pre-Columbian America. It' s greatness has eclipsed the classical Mayan capitol Tikal, and its presence shows that the Maya blossomed hundreds of years before the classical period. Classical times, which began around 250 AD, were the Maya' s gold era.
The classical Mayan civilisation has grown to about 40 towns, among them Tikal, Uaxactún, Copán, Bonampak, Dos Pilas, Calakmul, Palenque and Río Bec; each town had between 5,000 and 50,000 inhabitants. Could have peaked at 2,000,000,000,000. Mayan site digs have uncovered places, buildings, monasteries and shrines as well as playgrounds that were ritual istically and political important for the Mayan cultur.
Mayan towns were encircled and assisted by a large number of peasants. Although the Maya practised a crude form of "slash-and-burn", they also showed signs of more progressive cultivation techniques such as watering and patress. Mayans were profoundly worshipped various deities associated with the natural world, such as the deities of the sun, lunar, rain and grain.
The Mayan community was headed by the" kings" or "kuhul ajaw" (holy lords), who said they were related to the deities and followed a line of inheritance. You were to act as a mediator between the deities and humans on this planet and carried out the complex sacred rites and rites that are so important for Mayanism.
Many of the classical Maya constructed their churches and castles in step pyramidal form and decorated them with lavish relief and engravings. This structure has given the Maya their fame as the great Mesoamericanists. Led by their sacred ceremony, the Maya also made significant progress in maths and cosmonomy, incorporating the use of zero and the evolution of a sophisticated 365-day calender.
Although early explorers came to the conclusion that the Maya were a tranquil company of clergy and jurists, later proof - which included a thorough study of the works of art and epigraphs on their church facades - showed the less tranquil side of Maya civilization, which included the struggle between competing states of the Maya and the importance of torturing and sacrificing people for their rituals.
In the 1830s, serious research began on the classical Mayan places. Much of what maya history knows about the Maya comes from the remnants of its architectural and artistic heritage, which includes woodcarvings and engravings on its edifices and memorials. Mayans also made papers out of treebark and written in textbooks out of this document known as codes; four of these codes are known to have survive.
The Maya' s many fascinating things were their capacity to create a great civilisation in a tropic rain forest environment. Historically, ancient tribes thrived in dryer climatic zones, where the central exploitation of aquatic ecosystems (through watering and other techniques) was the foundation of our population. Teotihuacan from the highlands of Mexico, contemporary of the classical Maya.
However, in the Mayan Plains there were few shipping routes for commerce and transportation and no apparent need for an artificial watering system. Until the end of the twentieth Century, the scientists came to the conclusion that the lowland climates were indeed very different. Although alien intruders have been frustrated by the shortage of sterling and gold, the Maya have exploited the region's many indigenous sources, among them lime (for construction), vulcanic rocks observidian (for instruments and weapons) and salts.
There were other Mayan gems in the area, among them dolphin jades, quetzals (to adorn the lavish outfits of the Mayan nobility) and sea mussels used as trumpet in ceremonials and wars. Something unfamiliar occurred from the end of the 8th to the end of the 9th centuries that shook the very foundation of Mayan civilisation.
The classical towns in the South Plain were left one by one, and by 900 AD the Mayan civilisation in this area was in collapse. There are some who believe that by the 9th centuries the Maya had depleted the surrounding area to such an extent that they could no longer feed a very large people.
The other Mayan scientists claim that the ongoing war between rival city-states caused the complex army, the familiy (through marriage) and the trading coalitions between them to collapse, along with the conventional system of ruling dynasty rule. After all, some disastrous changes in the environment - such as an extreme long, intensive dry spell - have eradicated classical Mayan civilisation.
It would have had a particularly severe impact on towns such as Tikal, where rain water was needed both for watering and irrigating. The overcrowding and overexploitation of the country, as well as the wars and droughts, could have contributed to the demise of the Maya in the south. Some Mayan towns such as Chichén Itzá, Uxmal and Mayapán flourished in the Yucatan plateau during the post-classical period (A. D. 900-1500).
However, when the Spaniards came, most of the Maya lived in rural towns whose large towns were covered with a sheet of rain forest plant.