The Mayans had a complex system of trade and economy throughout their entire history. In fact, contrary to early assertions, the Mayans actually had strong commercial ties with other Mesoamerican cultures from all over Central and South America.
This trade network initially began as a linear route which ran from the Guatemala all the way to Mexico during the Preclassic period (around 2000 BC to 300 AD). Over time, this trading network would change and shift according to political and economic necessities. Among the major trading hubs of the Mayan trade route include major city states like Kaminaljuyu and Tak’alik Ab’aj.
Chichen Izta, (pronounced, Cheechen eetZA) is perhaps the best known Mayan archaeological site on the Yucatan peninsula, Mexico, leading Palenque, in Chiapas, Mexico, Tikal in Guatemala and Copan in Honduras. Thought to be built on the site of a prior Mayan settlement, the city was at its height from around AD 980 to 1220, preceding the Toltecs from central Mexico, who settled here.
Many ruins of important buildings remain from this time. The Castillo and other temples with sculptures and color reliefs, an observatory, and a sacred well (cenote), into which sacrifices, including human beings, were thrown are included among these.
The religion of the Maya is not definitively known, mainly because the conquistadors of Spain destroyed as much of the “heathen” culture as possible before trying to convert the people to Catholicism. Never the less, much has been learned of their religious beliefs as archeologists uncover things like ancient books, pottery with text or paintings on them, mural paintings, carvings, and other various treasures that were left untouched.
Thanks to these artifacts, we now know a little about what these people believed, who they worshiped, and how they performed their religious ceremonies.
History per se is never accurate. The only real account we have of history is what is left by opinion. This is especially true in the realm of Mayan history, where the most elaborate accounts of history are sourced from unskilled archaeologists, opinionated historians, inaccurate translations, biased Spanish Conquistador scripts.
Other than such archaeologists, historians, and scripts, we are left with eroding hieroglyphics that aren’t always decipherable, even by those that speak one or two of over 30 dialects of Mayan. Thus, the following account, as with any historical account of Mayan history, should be read with a bit a constructive and inquisitive skepticism. Don’t take our word for it, seek the truth, or at least something close to it.
For the Maya, a highly religious people, death was something to be both feared and revered. Their fear of their gods’ anger and judgment weighed heavily on them, making them fearful of the world beyond, even as they believed in a heaven-like afterlife. They treated their dead with great respect, mourning them extensively and keeping their memory alive through retellings of their accomplishments in life. Though the process of burial changed over the years, the one thing that didn’t was the elaborate way that they would perform it.
The Maya were one of the Mesoamerican societies that left a huge impact on the history and culture of Central America. The Maya were more advanced than their neighbors in many areas, such as agriculture, architecture and astronomy, but what has fascinated explorers and archaeologists the most is their unique hieroglyphic writing system, which they invented more than 2,300 years ago.
The Maya glyphs are very advanced, visually striking and complex. Their calligraphic style and sophisticated phonetic system are different from any other writing system in the world. This is because the ancient Maya invented their writing system independently from the rest of the world.
Enclosed and surrounded by dense jungle forests with pervasive mahogany, cedar and sapodilla trees, frequently shrouded in fog lies the Maya site, Palenque, resting on the eastern front of the Rio Usumacinta Basin in the neighborhood of the roaming foothills of Chiapas’ Oriental- at elevation of about 3000 meters-overlooking the lower plain extending to the Gulf of Mexico.
The Mayan archaeological site of Palenque represents the western regional variant of Classic Maya civilization. Although the earliest occupation of the site dates to about 100 BC, became a major population center only at about 600 AD. Nearly all construction at Palenque stopped by about 800 AD.
The ancient Mayan city of Chichen Itza is one of the main places of interest for tourists visiting the Yucatan peninsula, in Mexico. The name of the city means "At the mouth of the well of the Itza", and is believed to have reached its apogee during the political and economical dominance of the Itza ethnic group over the northern Yucatan.
Chichen Itza is a large pre-Colombian archeological site built by the advanced (for its time) Mayan civilization. Archaeologists have found signs of previously built settlements in the area, but the most impressive buildings in the city were built around 600 AD.
The Ancient Mayan people are world renowned for the sizeable buildings and pyramids that they designed and built. In a time without the media and television influences, the ancient Mayans could build whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted to do so.
The ancient Mayan people were the ancient inhabitants within certain sections of the South Americas. The largest ancient Mayan population groups were in Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, Western Honduras, and El Salvador. They were famed for their ferocity and willingness to sacrifice children and enemies for their Gods. The Mayans are famed for their calendar which has specified the world events, and has specified that the world will end in December, 2012.
Rediscovered in 1905 by Maurice Perigny, Nakum has had several archaeological and restorative sessions including a Guatemalan official restoration in 1990.
Nakum is a Mayan Jungle Site and a former ceremonial center and city of the ancient Maya of Guatemala. Located in the northeastern portion of the Petén Basin region, it rests in what is called the Guatemalan department of Petén. The northeastern Petén region contains significant Maya sites, Nakum being one of three sites composing the cultural and political triangle of "Yaxha-Nakum-Naranjo". Approximately 17 km to the north of Yaxha and some 20 km to the east of Tikal. Outside of Tikal its main temple, a visibly-restored feature, serves as one of the Maya civilization’s best preserved archeological artifacts.
The Mayan civilization was very advanced for its time, and had great knowledge of astronomy, geometry and last but not least – ways to measure the time. Many experts in the fields of astronomy, mathematics and other sciences find the way the Maya used to calculate time periods unique.
The essentials of their calendar system were similar to other calendar systems found in the same region of the world by other Mesoamerican civilizations, dating as far back in time as the fifth century BC.
While maize was a common food for the Maya, their cuisine was varied and highly extensive. They consumed many types of food, including fish and other ocean creatures, wild plants, and their own crops. They were also excellent hunters and foragers, though their advanced agricultural methods produced the staple foods upon which their entire diet was based.
The primary crops grown by the Maya were maize, squash, beans, and chili peppers. The first three were used throughout the Americas and called the “Three Sisters” because they complimented each other both in taste and nutrients. Many varieties of maize were grown, but it was a delicate crop that could not support the larger developments, so it is thought that perhaps manioc was used in its place when maize was scarce. Other crops included tomatoes, avocadoes, papaya, pineapple, pumpkin, and sweet potato. Many herbs and spices were also grown and used in their cooking. This included vanilla, white cinnamon, avocado leaf, and allspice. Some of these were used to create special dishes while others were used in everyday cooking. Wild onions and salt were also commonly used in the cooking.
The ancient Maya civilization flourished in Mesoamerica, a region now divided into Central America and Mexico, about two millennia after similar high civilizations rose in Europe and Asia. Like all other civilizations of the old world, the Maya had advanced astrology since the beginning, which continued to develop over centuries.
The Ancient Maya had no significant amount of outside influence, and yet its people were able to thrive and reach the heights of its civilization. Until five hundred years ago, when the Spanish came and the Aztec reigned as the predominant empire, the Mayan calendar was one of the most recognized astrological traditions held in Mesoamerica.
Unlike Chichen Itza and Tikal, Copan is very little known by the outside world. Nonetheless, this Mayan site is one of the most important sites in the Mayan world. Because of its vast gambit of hieroglyphic texts, Copan is considered an intelligencia among the Mayan world settlements. The site, located in the Copan Valley of Honduras has recently been subject to meticulous study and investigation due to the wealth of history and culture found in the inscriptions on the temples and stellae.
Referred to as the most artistically advanced and elaborate of all the cities, Copan we deemed a heritage of humanity site in 1980 by UNESCO. Continuous study of the city by archaeologists for over a century has made it the most studied city of the Maya.
The Mayans and Aztecs both got a great amount of uses and nutrition out of maize. And, for those who are unsure what it is, well… it’s corn. Some of the earliest corn farms have been found in the Mayan and Aztec territories. Many archeologists have speculated that it was the Mayans that had first mastered the idea of farming and irrigation. Newer evidence has emerged that has made the corn seed seem viable as a farming product far before the Mayans, Aztecs, or Olmecs. Signs of living, farming and harvesting corn have been discovered in the South American territories as early as 5,000 B.C.
Farming foods in the lush jungle landscape is what kept the Mayan alive. Most of the foods they harvested included beans, manioc (tubers), and maize. The Mayans and the Aztecs had to do this while accompanying it with hunting to accommodate for the proper nutrition and protein that they needed. Many have pondered, what did the Mayans drink? Even though they lived in jungle, fresh and abundant rainwater wasn’t a reliable option.
Chichen Itza was the spiritual and social hub of the late Mayan World. It was the centerpiece of the Mayan civilization in the Yucatan Peninsula since the early 700’s. The city was the center of sacrifice for the area as well. The city owed that sacrificial reputation to an ancient Mayan and the mysterious cenotes in the area. A cenote is a natural well that reaches deep into the land, possibly connecting to other underground tunnels.
The Sacrificial Cenote wasn’t used for drinking, or cleaning, another set of cenotes and artificial wells were used for that. A Bishop in the mid 1500’s is the first to mention the sacrifices that occur at the ancient Sacrificial Cenote. The Bishop claimed that Chichen Itza had a huge chamber inside which they would herd thousands of slaves and citizens to be sacrificed at the cenotes.
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