The Mayans

By: Jordan Clark


The Mayans or the Maya civilization is a Mesoamerican civilization. They developed the only pre-Columbian written language. It is famous for its architecture, art, mathematical, and astronomical systems. The civilization was established during the Pre-classic period or during the 10th century B.C. During its peak it was one of the most populous and advanced civilization of it's time.

I will cover five topics on Mayan Civilization

1. The Beginning and The Fall - Talks about when the Mayan civilization was started and what caused it to end.
2. Colonial Period - Talks about Mayan's existence in the Northern Yucatan Peninsula and the Spanish's arrival.
3. Mayan Art, Architecture, and Writing - Describes Mayan Art, Architecture, and Writing
4. Mayan Religion and Beliefs- Talks about the religion and beliefs of the Mayan people
5. 2012 Prophecy - The Mayans 2012 prophecy about the end of the world.

A piece of Mayan Art
A piece of Mayan Art

1. The Beginning and the Fall

The Mayan empire was established in the 10th century B.C. The Mayans city of Cuello has been carbon dated to about 2600 B.C.The first villages and way of life were established during this time period. This was the foundation of the Mayan civilization. From here the Mayan civilization would continue to grow until the collapse. During the Classic Period they prospered greatly. They had advances in construction, art, and urbanism. They built lots oftemples and other monuments. Most of their monuments were stepped pyramids that they built in the religious part of the city for people to go pray at and to worship their gods. They developed an empire based on agriculturly independent city states. Part of their economy was from trading. They traded with several other mesoamerican civilizations including the Teotihuacan and the Zapotec. They traded cacao beans, salt, jade and many other items found in there region. During the 8th and 9th century the southern cities of the Mayan Civilization were abandoned.
Mayan Civilization
Mayan Civilization
One of the weird things is that during this time they were having lots of architectural advancements and becoming a more sophisticated people. The reason for the Mayan Civilization collapse is still a mystery. There are several different reasons on why they abandoned there cities during a time of prosperity. Some of the reasons are that they were taken over by a foreign people or there could have been a massive plague that went through. The theory most people believe is that their population became so massive that their current agricultural needs could not meet what was needed. Scholars have also recently found that there could have been a massive 200 year drought that could have limited the amount of food they could grow.

More information on Mayan Civilization

This is where I got information from 1, 2

2. Colonial Period

After the collapse, the city-states in the northern part of the empire continued to prosper. During the Colonial period the Spanish arrived. When the Spanish people arrived they started to attack the Mayan Empire. They tried to establish city-states in the Yucatan Peninsula
Mayan ruins in the Yucatan Peninsula
Mayan ruins in the Yucatan Peninsula
(which was ruled by the Mayans.) The Spanish's conquest of the Yucatan Peninsula is often referred to as the Spanish Conquest of Yucatan (click to learn more.) The challenging part of conquering the Mayans was that the Mayans had no center to their Empire. They all just had completely separate city-states. So the Spanish had to conquer these city-states one by one instead of being able to attack the center and the empire fall. The one thing that helped the Mayans last longer is that the Spanish were interested in the Gold and Silver in central Mexico. The Mayan lands were poor in these resources. The Spanish government destroyed Mayan writings and history. The last of the city-sates were overcome by the Spanish in 1697.
This is where I got information from

3. Mayan Art, Architecture, and Writing

The Mayans had very intricate and great art. The Mayans had great sculptures. There sculptures varied but one of the main kind found in lots of cities was called a Stella. It was a slab of rock with carvings telling about the city it was located in and who the ruler was at that time.
The Bonampak paintings
The Bonampak paintings
Very few stellas have been recovered and the main ones from the biggest cities were not preserved. The Mayans also made carvings out of wood but they decomposed long ago. The thing they like to carve out of the most was Jade. They made very intricate designs and ritual objects from Jade. The Mayans had a very sophisticated architecture for their time. They had massive buildings in which the king lived with several different floors. They had massive courtyards and temples where they could go to worship their gods. Even the houses the regular people lived in were immense. The Mayans had a writing system much like the Ancient Egyptians which was hieroglyphs. The Mayans would use
a picture basically and for each picture there could be several meanings, and for each meaning the picture had a different mark. Most of the texts that have been recovered from ancient Mayan civilizations are depicting wars and dynasties. (Click here to learn more about Mayan Art, Architecture, and Writing.)

This where I got information from, 1, 2, 3, 4

Discovering Art in Mirador

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4. Mayan Religion and Beliefs

Mayan's believed in a cyclical nature of time. They had different ceremonies and celebrations based on each phase in the year. The priest had the job of predicting what would happen in the next phase based on what had happened in the past. They also had to determine when the time was right to perform certain rituals and ceremonies. The Mayans believed in human sacrifice. The Priest would have people hold the arms and legs of a person and he would cut there chest open and take out their heart as a sacrifice. They would often use children
Ruins at Palenque
Ruins at Palenque
as children were thought to be pure. The Mayan religion is still a mystery but it is believed that they believed in three major places, The Earth, The Sky, and The Underworld. The Mayan underworld was ruled by the Gods of Death. Mayan Gods did not have separate duties like Greek Gods. Mayan Gods were all merged together doing several different things. The Mayans main god was Itzamna. They believed that he created the Earth and their people. The priest was considered the person between the people and the Gods. They believed that even he was semi-divine himself. The Mayans believed that when you died your soul went to the underworld. The underworld was a harsh place ruled by the harsh Gods of Death. The only way you went to Heaven was if you died in a sacrifice or in childbirth. The Mayans also believed that they could predict the future and have actually done a very good job so far with predicting moon phases, astronomical alignments, and many other things. They have also predicted the end of the world.
(Click to learn More about Mayan Gods, and Religion.)

This is where I got information from, 1, 2, 3

external image spaceball.gifMayan Religion

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The Mayan 2012 Prophecy

The Mayans believed that the world would end on December 21, 2012. Scientist and Philosophers have been speculating and trying to decipher why the Mayans thought this. The Mayans were very talented and predicting things in the astronomical way. The Mayan calender has never erred. Scientist think that the way the planets will align
Ancient Mayan Calender
Ancient Mayan Calender
( this only happens ever 26,000 years) could be why they thought the world would end. There is a very large number of people that think that something is going to happen, not necessarily the end of the world but something big. Some scientist also think that Global Warming will cause the Greenland Ice Sheet to suddenly melt sending a very large amount of fresh water into the conveyor belt of moving water in the ocean and potentially stopping this conveyor belt sending the Earth into a massive ice age. This ice age could exterminate numerous species. The Mayans also predicted that the people of the Earth will be mutating by the 12-21-12 without knowing it. This theory has become so serious that NASA had to release a statement saying that the world will not end in 2012 and that nothing is going to happen. There are still lots of people that believe that this is going to happen and are building shelters and stocking up on food and weapons for protection. Some . people also think that the government is hiding the fact that the world is coming to an end. If something does happen the Mayans would be right again, but if nothing happens (which it probably won't) then it will be the first time the Mayans have erred.

This is where I got information from 1, 2

The Mayan Calender 2012 & Beyond

The Mayan Calendar 2012 & Beyond - Full - The most popular videos are a click away

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Works Cited

"Earth could plunge into sudden ice age" ,
Charles Q. Choi, Dec. 2nd, 2009, Accessed: December 4th 2009

"Maya Architecture" , Accessed December 9th 2009

"Maya Art" , Accessed December 9th 2009

"Maya Civilization" , Accessed: December 9th 2009

"Maya Religion" , Accessed December 9th 2009

"Maya Script" , Accessed: 9th 2009

"Mayan Civilization and History",, Accessed: December 8th

"Mayan End Age 12-21-12", ,
Accessed: December 11th 2009

"Mayan Religion", , Accessed: December 9th