Mayan Civilization

Mayan civilization is known for its advancement in the fields of art, architecture, math, and astronomy, and even after hundreds of years, their temples and other cultural artifacts are still a marvel to behold. The ancient civilization of the Maya was well developed, and more than forty cities throughout Mesoamerica in Mexico, Belize, Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala were part of this society. The Mayan religion is of specific interest to historians and scholars who have been interpreting the temples, pyramids, and tombs of archeological sites. Unfortunately, the Spanish conquistadors who arrived in the sixteenth century burned a great deal of the material that could have revealed more clues. Despite this fact, significant information is still known about these ancient people.

One of the most notable achievements of the Mayan civilization is their written language. The writing system was similar to the hieroglyphs of ancient Egypt, and it had more than 1,000 different glyphs. During the Colonial period, the Spanish destroyed a great deal of these writings from the ancient civilization of the Maya, yet today it still is estimated that more than 10,000 individual texts have been recovered from the various sites of Mayan ruins. Texts have been inscribed on everything from stone to ceramic pottery. These writing have revealed a great deal about Mayan religion, leaders, and wars.

The Mayan civilization covered a vast space for one group of people. Southern Mexico (including the Yucatan), and into the northern section of Central America were home to the Mayan people. Today, travelers who are interested in this ancient civilization can visit Mayan ruins in many countries. Some of the most popular sites are Chichen Itza in Mexico, Tikal in Guatemala, and Copan in Honduras. The ruins of these cities are located in diverse environments, from on the Caribbean Sea, to strategic points along rivers, to the depths of jungles.

The ancient civilization of the Maya stretches back to the pre-classic period. It is believed that the area began to be inhabited as far back as the tenth century BC. Significant construction began during the classic period, from roughly 250 through 900 AD. Agriculture developed during this period, and the construction of religious centers became important. The significance of Mayan religion can be seen in the iconic stepped pyramids. Evidence suggests that this civilization also practice human sacrifice, sometimes with children. While Mayan gods and mythology played an important role in the lives of Mayans, astrology was also central.

Mayan art is one of the most significant achievements of the civilization. Many historians believe the artwork of the Mayans to be some of the most beautiful and, arguably more important, sophisticated in the New World. Paintings, pottery, ceramics, and murals all depicted the human form very accurately. Interestingly, Mayan artists signed their names on their work, unlike artists of other ancient civilizations. Mayan architecture developed over thousands of years, and is best remembered for the step-pyramids. Courts for sports are also found in the ruins. Together, all of the different features of the Mayan ruins reveal different fascinating details about the way of life in this ancient civilization.

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