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America

The Mayans

The Mayan civilization Developed in further south to Mexico, what is now northern Guatemala and Belize. Mayas are much older than Aztecs. By 1800 B.C. to 1500 B.C. the Mayans were cultivating corn, beans and squash and had begun constructing permanent villages.  These villages were mostly filled by one room houses made of dried mud. There were also places and building that were designed for the ceremonial purposes.

Maya civilization was ruled by a King. Position of king usually inherited by the oldest son. The peak time of Mayan Civilization was 300 A.D. to 900 A.D. During that time they build great cities with temples, monuments, palaces, ball courts and pyramids. Pyramids are considered to be designed for religious purposes. Some of those pyramid were two hundred feet high and only made of stone. Great Mayan engineers constructed causeways and elevated walk ways from stone. Chichen Itze, Tikal, Uxmal and Plaenque were the great Mayan cities. Each of every these cities was centered by a pyramid.

Not like other civilizations Mayans had a good knowledge about writing and language. They kept written records about their own culture and technology. Archeologists have found written records of their myths, rituals and history in hieroglyphics carved into stairways, pillars and doorways. Most famous Mayan record is four Mayan codices. The most complete Mayan codex is now in Germany. According to Mayans the legend about Popol Vuh was the story of the world creation. The original manuscript of this legend has never been found. But they passed it by generation to generation.

Mayans had a good ability to figure time. Mainly there were two ways of figuring time. They had a calendar with 260 days per year. This calendar was used for religious activities. Once a baby was born a god was selected as his or her patron sanit. Mayans used another civil calendar that was almost similar to the calendar that we use today. It was based on solar years and had 360 normal days and 5 unlucky days per year.

Mayan calander

 

Mayans were great astronomers. They studied planets and stars very well. Centuries before the invention of modern astronomical tools Mayans had studied the courses of Mars, Venus and Mercury. They could accurately predict the eclipse of the sun and moon. They had a complicated path finding method by observing stars.

Not only the astronomy But also the Mayans had a well Developed system of mathematics that include the concept of Zero .Because of this concept of Zero they could do any complex calculation in mathematics. In addition to Mayans accomplishments in astronomy, time handling, mathematics and architecture, they were good farmers. They never over worked the soil. They knew that is they use their soil again and again it could be barren and useless. They grew maize in small garden plots called ‘’milpas’’.

Ancient Maya sculpture

 

Mayans used to make human sacrifices to their gods. It may sound gruesome or primitive to us but to the Mayans it was the best way to please their gods. As Mayans were cruel and aggressive in war, the heads of enemies were sliced off and killed. The enemies who became prisoners faced a violent death by burning in fire alive or cutting their hearts out while they are still alive. Some of the prisoners had parts of their bodies mutilated so they would bleed abundantly. This blood was collected to a paper and burned. The smoke of burned blood was believed as a message carrier for gods.

Mayans making human sacrifices

From the 800 A.D. to 900 A.D. Mayan civilization declined. Nobody knows why, but the Mayans abandoned one city after another sometimes so quickly that monuments and buildings were left partially constructed. By the time the Spanish invaded the Mayan lands in the 1500 s, most of the Mayans had moved to the Yucatan peninsula in New Mexico. Spanish had to fight very hard to defeat Mayans because they were very smart in war. They defeated three Spanish armies but finally they gave up. Over the centuries, the jungle reclaimed the temples, courtyards, and palaces, transforming them into ruins to be discovered by archeologists in our own time

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