From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
This article is about the pre-Columbian Maya civilization. For a discussion of the modern Maya, see Maya peoples. For other meanings of the word Maya, see Maya.
Classic Maya collapse
Spanish conquest of Yucatán
Spanish conquest of Guatemala
Spanish conquest of Petén
Uxmal, Nunnery Quadrangle
Throne 1 of Piedras Negras
Bonampak, Mexico, 790 A.D.
The Maya is a Mesoamerican civilization, noted for the only known fully developed written language of the pre-Columbian Americas, as well as for its art, architecture, and mathematical and astronomical systems. Initially established during the Pre-Classic period (c. 2000 BC to AD 250), according to the Mesoamerican chronology, many Maya cities reached their highest state of development during the Classic period (c. AD 250 to 900), and continued throughout the Post-Classic period until the arrival of the Spanish.
The Maya civilization shares many features with other Mesoamerican civilizations due to the high degree of interaction and cultural diffusion that characterized the region. Advances such as writing, epigraphy, and the calendar did not originate with the Maya; however, their civilization fully developed them. Maya influence can be detected in Honduras, Belize, Guatemala, and western El Salvador to as far away as central Mexico, more than 1,000 km (620 mi) from the central Maya area. The many outside influences found in Maya art and architecture are thought to have resulted from trade and cultural exchange rather than direct external conquest.
The Maya peoples survived the Classic period collapse and the arrival of the Spanish conquistadores and sixteenth-century Spanish colonization of the Americas. Today, the Maya and their descendants form sizable populations throughout the Maya area; they maintain a distinctive set of traditions and beliefs resulting from the merger of pre-Columbian and post-Conquest ideas and cultures. Millions of people speak Mayan languages today. In 2005 the Rabinal Achí, a play written in the Achi language, was declared a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO.
• 1 Geographical extent
• 2 History o 2.1 Preclassic o 2.2 Classic o 2.3 The Maya collapse o 2.4 Postclassic period o 2.5 Colonial period
• 3 King and court
• 4 Art
• 5 Architecture o 5.1 Urban design o 5.2 Building materials o 5.3 Notable constructions
• 6 Writing and literacy o 6.1 Writing system o 6.2 Writing tools o 6.3 Scribes and literacy
• 7 Mathematics
• 8 Astronomy
• 9 Calendar
• 10 Religion
• 11 Agriculture
• 12 Rediscovery of the Pre-Columbian Maya
• 13 Maya sites
• 14 See also
• 15 Footnotes
• 16 References
• 17 Further reading
• 18 External links
Extension of Classic and Post-Classic Maya civilization
SeaWiFS image of Classic and Post-Classic Maya civilization
The Maya civilization extended throughout the present-day southern Mexican states of Chiapas, Tabasco, and the Yucatán Peninsula states of Quintana Roo, Campeche and Yucatán. The Maya area also extended throughout the northern Central American region, including the present-day nations of Guatemala, Belize, western Honduras and extreme northern El Salvador.
The Maya area is generally divided into three loosely defined zones: the southern Pacific lowlands, the highlands, and the northern lowlands. The Maya highlands include all of elevated terrain in Guatemala and the Chiapas highlands of Mexico. The southern lowlands lie just south of the highlands, and incorporate a part of the Mexican state of Chiapas, the south coast of Guatemala, Belize and northern El