Maya civilization

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The Maya civilization was a Mesoamerican civilization that lasted in its Classic Period and its Postclassic Period from about 250 AD to almost 1700 AD. The Mayan Region covers roughly 320,000 square kilometers (125,000 square miles).


  • For more than ten centuries until A.D. 900, the Maya flourished in the lowlands of Central America, reaching a population near ten million and reliant on delicate water management in a drought-prone terrain. Like the great civilizations of the Indus, Tigris-Euphrates, Nile, and Yellow rivers, the Maya could overcome droughts that stretched years or even decades. But a three-hundred-year dearth of rain—lake-bed cores show that it lasted from 750 to 1050—proved too much.
  • For many centuries before Christ to about AD 900, the lowland Maya civilization achieved its apogee in the Petén forest of northern Guatemala and the adjacent portions of Mexico, Belize, and western Honduras, what today we call the "Maya lowlands" ... For over 1,500 years, this region was covered by a network of kingdoms dominated by "holy lords," sacred kings who were linked by complex ties of kinship, ritual, trade, and military alliance. Their political and religious centers included great acropoli of massed palaces, temples, stone tombs, and ballcourts. These centers of power and pageantry were supported by thousands of farmers who practiced a complex system rain forest agriculture—a system which only is beginning to be understood.
  • The origin of the Maya civilization is lost in the remote past, not even the shadowy half lights of tradition illumining its beginnings. The very earliest inscriptions literally burst upon us fully formed, the flower of long-continued observations expressed in a graphic system of exceeding intricacy. It seems probable indeed, judging from the complexity of the earliest texts, which are in stone, that the hieroglyphic writing must have been developed on some perishable medium, such as wood or fiber paper or parchment, the destruction of which by natural processes would satisfactorily explain the entire absence of its earlier stages.

External links[edit]

Encyclopedic article on Maya civilization on Wikipedia