The Mayans

Resources, articles, and posts about the culture of the Mayans

Resources, articles, and posts about the culture of the Mayans

Temple I on The Great Plaza and North Acropolis seen from Temple II in Tikal, Guatemala. By Bjørn Christian Tørrissen [CC BY SA, 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Features of Mayan Cities

Mayan architecture spanned over a thousand years. Many cities contain similar features such as stepped pyramids, temples, palaces and carved stone monuments, but not all of them contain every one. Each city is different, as the Mayans built to accommodate the natural surroundings. Rather than a rigid grid pattern, like…

Palace structure of Pre-Classic Nakbe, 2006 Authenticmaya [CC BY SA 2.5]

Mayan Societal Collapses

While most readers are aware of the more famous collapse of the Classic era, an earlier Mayan collapse preceded it during the Late or Terminal Pre-Classic era. The reasons for the earlier collapse remain as murky as those for the later, but both emptied out great Mayan cities and resulted…

El Castillo (pyramid of Kukulcán) in Chichén Itzá. By Daniel Schwen [CC by SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

The Mayan Post-Classic Era

While millions of Mayans died or at least disappeared during the years of the Classic era collapse, the Mayan civilization didn’t totally vanish. The great cities of the southern lowlands were abandoned and the remaining Mayans took their civilization to the northern Yucatan where they settled. Gradually, they built new…

North Acropolis, Tikal, Guatemala. By Axcordion [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The Mayan Classic Era

During the Mayan classic era, A.D. 250 to 900, millions of Maya lived in dozens of great city-states. The Mayan culture reached its zenith in culture, monumental architecture, great trading networks, the arts, mathematics and calendrics, astronomy and cosmology, engineering, a fully developed writing system, intensive agriculture and sophisticated religious…

Mural fragment in San Bartolo, Guatemala, rediscovered 2003, presented at the Palacio Nacional de La Cultura, May 2006. Pre-Classic Maya art

The Mayan Pre-Classic Era

The Mayan pre-classic period stretches from 2000 B.C. to A.D. 250, from the primitive huts of hunter-gatherers to organized agriculture and large cities. It covers the beginning of what we consider civilization to a complex, well-functioning, socially stratified society. Early Pre-Classic Scholars date the early pre-classic era from 2000 to…

The Great Ball Court at Chichen Itza (545 by 232 feet). By Brian Snelson [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons.

The Mayan Ball Game

The Mesoamerican ball game was played, experts think, by all the cultures in the region, beginning with the Olmecs who may have invented it. The ball game goes back 3,500 years, making it the first organized game in the history of sports. Mayans loved the game and everyone played at…

This is a drawing of Stela 25, at the Izapa archaeological site, with one of the Hero Twins and the bird demon. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Maya Hero Twins

The Maya had many myths; one of their most important and favorite myths concerned the Hero Twins, a pair of demi-gods who became heroes and tricksters. The myth is ancient going back to Pre-Classic era and probably into archaic times. The Twins appear on many monuments, painted pottery and cave…

mayan farming

Mayan Farming and Maya Agricultural Methods

Ancient Maya people were clever and hardworking farmers who used a variety of techniques to raise enough food to feed the large populations in Maya cities. Their sophistication can be compared to other ancient empires such as the Egyptians. Corn, or maize, was the main staple crop. Maize was grown…

maya beauty

The Maya Concept of Beauty

Maya beauty was a critical idea in Mayan civilization, as it was in others. The Maya, just like people today, loved personal beauty, and they were willing to spend their wealth and endure much pain to achieve the perfect look. However, what they thought was beautiful differs in some respects…

Raw obsidian and obsidian blades, examples of Maya commodities, by Simon Burchell (Own work) CC-BY-SA-3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Maya Merchants and Traders

While agriculture was the basis of Maya civilization, trade was equally important. During the early Pre-Classic period, Maya living in small villages were somewhat self-sustaining. However, as the Maya began building their great cities, only trade would have brought them the essential goods they needed, such as salt and obsidian.…

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