Key Points

The Maya arisen an agriculturally intensive, city-centered human being consisting of numerous independent city-states of differing power and also influence.The Maya human being participated in long-distance trade with numerous other Mesoamerican cultures and established profession routes in between city-states.The Maya used complicated calendars to calculation religious, solar, and lunar cycles.The reason of the collapse of the Maya world is unknown.

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An vital city the boasted some of the most complex architecture indigenous the Classic duration of Maya history.


This 365-day solar calendar made use of the activity of Earth around the sun to calculate the year.


Carved stones illustrating rulers through hieroglyphic texts describing your accomplishments.

The Classic period lasted native 250 come 900 CE. It observed a peak in massive construction and also urbanism, the record of monumental inscriptions, and far-ranging intellectual and artistic development, particularly in the southern lowland regions. Throughout this duration the Maya population numbered in the millions, with numerous cities containing 50,000 to 120,00o people. The Maya developed an agriculturally intensive, city-centered world consisting of numerous independent city-states of differing power and influence. They created a multitude that kingdoms and little empires, constructed monumental palaces and also temples, involved in highly developed ceremonies, and also developed an elaborate hieroglyphic creating system.

The political, economic, and also culturally dominant “core” Maya systems of the standard Maya world system were located in the central lowlands, while the equivalent peripheral Maya systems were found along the spare part of the southern highland and also northern lowland areas. The semi-peripheral (mediational) units normally took the form of trade and also commercial centers. However as in all human being systems, the Maya core centers shifted with time, starting out throughout Preclassic time in the southerly highlands, relocating to the main lowlands throughout the standard period, and also finally moving to the northern peninsula throughout the Postclassic period.


The most notable monuments room the stepped pyramids the Maya developed in their spiritual centers and the accompanying palaces of their rulers. The royal residence at Cancuén is the largest in the Maya area, but the site has actually no pyramids. On the various other hand, cities choose Tikal and Copán illustrate the riches of architectural accomplishments during this prolific centuries. Copán came come its complete power in between the sixth and 8 hours centuries, and also included enormous temples and also carvings that show the full power that its ruling, and also often merciless, emperors.


Tikal Temple. Classic period temple native Tikal, Guatemala.

The urban of Palenque and also Yaxchilan to be also cultural and spiritual centers in the southeastern Maya region, and also included large temples, ball courts, and also even a unique vaulted ceiling in the hallway of the Palenque Palace.


The Palenque Palace and also aqueduct. Cities favor Palenque boasted several of the many refined architectural works in the Classic duration of Maya culture.

Other important archaeological remains include the carved stone slabs usually dubbed stelae (the Maya referred to as them tetun, or “tree-stones”), i m sorry depict rulers together with hieroglyphic messages describing their genealogy, military victories, and other accomplishments.

Maya mask. Stucco frieze from Placeres, Campeche. Beforehand Classic period (c. 250–600 CE).


The political relationship between Classic Maya city-states has actually been likened come the relationships in between city-states in timeless Greece and Renaissance Italy. Part cities were attached to each other by right limestone causeways, recognized as sacbeob. Even if it is the exact function of these roadways was commercial, political, or religious has not been determined.

The Maya people participated in lengthy distance profession with many other Mesoamerican cultures, consisting of Teotihuacan, the Zapotec, and also other teams in main and gulf-coast Mexico. In addition, castle traded with much more distant, non-Mesoamerican groups, such as the Taínos that the Caribbean islands. Archeologists have additionally found gold from Panama in the spiritual Cenote of Chichen Itza. Crucial trade goods included:

CacaoSaltSeashellsJadeObsidianCalendars and Religion

The Maya utilized complicated mathematical and astronomical calculations to build their monuments and conceptualize the cosmography of their religion. Each of the 4 directions represented particular deities, colors, and also elements. The underworld, the cosmos, and also the great tree of life in ~ the facility of the civilization all played their part in how buildings were built and when feasts or sacrifices to be practiced. Ancestors and deities helped weave the various levels of presence together through ritual, sacrifice, and also measured solar years.

The Maya arisen a mathematical mechanism that is strikingly comparable to the Olmec traditions. The Maya likewise linked this complicated system come the divine being Itzamna. This divine being was thought to have lugged much the Maya society to Earth. A 260-day calendar (Tzolkin) was an unified with the 365-day solar calendar (Haab’) to produce a calendar round. This calendar round would certainly take fifty-two solar years to return to the original first date. The Tzolkin calendar was supplied to calculate exact spiritual festival days. It utilized twenty called days that repeated thirteen times in the calendar year. The solar calendar (Haab’) is very similar to the modern solar calendar year that offers Earth’s orbit around the sun to measure time. The Maya believed there were 5 chaotic days at the end of the solar year that allowed the portals between worlds to open up, well-known as Wayeb’.


A Classic period Maya calendar. Every symbol to represent a details day within the calendar. When the Tzolkin and Haab’ calendar’s are an unified they create a fifty-two-year solar calendar.

These calendars were videotaped utilizing details symbols because that each job in the two main cycles. Calendrical stones were employed to carefully follow the activity of the solar and spiritual years. Although less frequently used, the Maya likewise employed a lengthy count calendar the calculated dates hundreds of years in the future. They also inscribed a lengthier 819-day calendar ~ above many religious temples transparent the region that many likely synchronized with important religious days.


The classic Maya Collapse refers to the decline of the Maya Classic duration and abandonment the the Classic duration Maya urban of the southerly Maya lowlands the Mesoamerica between the 8th and 9th centuries. This need to not be confused with the please of the Preclassic Maya in the second century CE. The Classic duration of Mesoamerican chronology is generally defined as the period from 300 to 900 CE, the last 100 year of which, native 800 to 900 CE, are commonly referred to as the Terminal Classic.

It has been hypothesized that the decrease of the Maya is pertained to the please of their intricate trade systems, especially those associated to the main Mexican city that Teotihuacán. Prior to there was a better knowledge that the chronology that Mesoamerica, Teotihuacan was thought to have fallen during 700–750 CE, forcing the “restructuring of financial relations throughout highland Mesoamerica and the Gulf Coast.” This remaking the relationships between civilizations would have then offered the collapse of the classic Maya a slightly later date. However, that is now thought that the strongest Teotihuacan affect was during the 4th and fifth centuries. In addition, the civilization of Teotihuacan began to lose its power, and also maybe also abandoned the city, during 600–650 CE. The Maya civilizations are currently thought to have actually lived on, and also prospered, possibly for one more century ~ the loss of Teotihuacano influence.

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The classic Maya Collapse is one of the greatest mysteries in archaeology. The standard Maya urban centers the the southerly lowlands, among them Palenque, Copán, Tikal, Calakmul, and many others, go into decline during the 8th and 9th centuries and were abandoned quickly thereafter. Some 88 different theories, or sport of theories, attempting to define the classic Maya Collapse have actually been identified. Native climate change, come deforestation, to lack of action by Maya kings, over there is no universally welcomed collapse theory, although dryness is obtaining momentum together the top explanation.