Christopher Welter
Tom Tomathy Mann Oryan

Location

The Maya were a civilization who lived in the pre-columbian Mesoamericas. Their larger societies lived in the Yucatan peninsula and modern day southern Guatemala. The Guatemalan settlement of the Maya was a very important one, as it was located in a region that basically served as a huge drainage basin of tropical rain forest precipitation. This Guatemalan area was settled around 250 A.D and quickly became a largely populated and important area in the Classic Maya Period while the northern Yucatan area was sparsely populated and it was not considered as such an important Mayan state as the Guatemalan one.
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Above - Maya settlement in the Yucatan Peninsula
Below - Maya during the Classic period.

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external image mayan_map.gif
Above - Mayan sites in the Yucatan peninsula, Classic and Postclassic.

Timeline

11,000 B.C.
The first hunter-gatherers settle in the Maya highlands and lowlands.

2600 B.C.
Maya civilization begins.
700 B.C.
Writing is developed in
Mesoamerica.
300 B.C.
The Maya adopt the idea of a hierarchical society ruled by nobles and kings.

400
The Maya highlands fall under the domination of
Teotihuacan, and the disintegration of Maya culture and language begins in some parts of the highlands.
500
The Maya city of Tikal becomes the first great Maya city, as citizens from Teotihuacan make their way to Tikal, introducing new ideas involving weaponry, captives, ritual practices and human sacrifice.
751
Long-standing Maya alliances begin to break down. Trade between Maya city-states declines, and inter-state conflict increases.

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
Yucatan continue to thrive.
1200
Northern Maya cities begin to be abandoned.

1283
Mayapan becomes the capital of Yucatan.
1517
The Spanish first arrive on the shores of
Yucatan under Hernandez de Cordoba, who later dies of wounds received in battle against the Maya. The arrival of the Spanish ushers in Old World diseases unknown among the Maya, including smallpox, influenza and measles. Within a century, 90 per cent of Mesoamerica's native populations will be killed off.

Government

The Maya society was mostly run by priests. That usually meant that they were very religious. This was called a theocracy. Because of this only Priests/Kings/Rulers were allowed to enter temples. The Priests climbed hundreds of steps then in the end would reward themselves by sacraficing animals and preforming rituals.

Economy

The Maya had an economy heavily based on agriculture, meaning that they mostly used agricultural products for trade (e.g. I'll give you three bananas for one apple). They also used jadeite, limestone and obsidian for trade, although not as much as agricultural products. Their trading network was quite complicated and extensive.

Society

The Maya society was quiet advanced for a Pre-Columbian civilization. Their ranks of society were quite similar to the rest of the world of that time in the fact that the slaves were the bottom of the bottom, the very rich and priests were high up, there was an overlord (the Halach Uinic) and the peasants were mostly just workers in the field. In Mayan society, being cross-eyed and having a high forehead was considered a beauty. The Maya's leader, the Halach Uinic, was basically the ruler of the entire Maya state. He had a council working below him. However, this was not the highest rank for society. The highest rank was the Ah Kin Mai, which means "The Highest of the Sun".

Belief System

The Maya had a belief system quite similar to the Aztec's one. However, as the Maya had settled first, it is possible the Aztec's copied their religion from the Maya. The Maya religion is obssessive about time. According to it, there were four eras of the world before this one. However, each one had ended and a new era was started shortly after. According to their very advanced and accurate calendar, this current era is to end on the 21st of December, 2012. Although their calendar was quite accurate, it was only very advanced for that time, and it is quiet probable that the eras were just myths and nothing will actually happen in 2012.
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Above - Mayan Priest.

Science and Technology

The Maya didn’t have the best technology, but what they did have was usually reliable. For example they created a Mayan calendar. Back in their day it was very advanced because it was accurate. This calendar told them what time of day it was, it told them if the day was going to be long or short. They also predicted wars that has happened before and they now predict the end of the world in 2012. The Maya society also did math, but instead of 10 symbols for all the numbers, they had 3. These were the 3 symbols that they used:

external image Image2.gif= 1
external image Image4.gif = 5
external image Image1.gif = 0 (or an empty place value)

Of course it's a bit more complicated then that, but these are the basic symbols.

Art and Architecture

The Maya draw just like us. They would draw on things like paper, building plaster, wood, stone, clay, stucco molds and terra cotta figurines. One of the only reasons that people made extraordinary buildings is usually because the kings wanted to make a mark in history with their architect. They would create pyramids, large palaces and observatories. They also made the art because they wanted to document the things that were happening, just like cavemen. That wasn't the only reason they did the art though. They used the art to communicate with other tribes not just with each other.
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Sources:
"Maya." Minnesota State University, Mankato. Web. Mar. 2010. <http://www.mnsu.edu/emuseum/prehistory/latinamerica/meso/cultures/maya.html>

"The Maya." Washington State University - Pullman, Washington. Web. Mar. 2010. <http://www.wsu.edu/~dee/CIVAMRCA/MAYAS.HTM>


"Maya Math." Oracle ThinkQuest Library. Web. Mar. 2010.
<http://library.thinkquest.org/5891/math.htm>.

"Maya - Government." Kidsnewsroom.org: Providing Children with a Safe, Kid-friendly Internet Site. Web. 21 Mar. 2010. <http://www.kidsnewsroom.org/elmer/infoCentral/frameset/civilizations/maya/gov/index.html>.

"Maya Architecture." Oracle ThinkQuest Library. Web. Mar. 2010. <http://library.thinkquest.org/10098/mayan.htm>.

"Maya Calendar." Oracle ThinkQuest Library. Web. Mar. 2010. <http://library.thinkquest.org/5891/calendar.htm>.

"Images of the Maya - Exhibit Home." Florida Museum of Natural History. Web. Mar. 2010. <http://www.flmnh.ufl.edu/maya/>.

"Maya." Minnesota State University, Mankato. Web. Mar. 2010. <http://www.mnsu.edu/emuseum/prehistory/latinamerica/meso/cultures/maya.html>