The Maya is a Mesoamerican civilization, noted for the only known fully developed written language of the pre-ColumbianAmericas, 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, HP Compaq 360482-001 Battery
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 andcultural diffusion that characterized the region. HP Compaq 360483-001 Battery
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 from Honduras, Belize, Guatemala, and western El Salvador to as far away as central Mexico, more than 1,000 km (620 mi) from the Maya area. HP Compaq 360483-003 Battery
Many outside influences are found in Maya art and architecture, which are thought to result from trade and cultural exchange rather than direct external conquest.
The Maya peoples never disappeared, neither at the time of the Classic period decline nor with the arrival of the Spanishconquistadores and the subsequent Spanish colonization of the Americas. HP Compaq 360483-004 Battery
Today, the Maya and their descendants form sizable populations throughout the Maya area and maintain a distinctive set of traditions and beliefs that are the result of the merger of pre-Columbian and post-Conquest ideas and cultures. Millions of people speak Mayan languages today; the Rabinal Achí, a play written in the Achi language, was declared a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO in 2005. HP Compaq 360484-001 Battery
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 Americanregion, including the present-day nations of Guatemala, Belize, northern El Salvador and western Honduras. HP Compaq 361909-001 Battery
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. 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 El Salvador. HP Compaq 361909-002 Battery
The northern lowlands cover all of the Yucatán Peninsula, including the Mexican states of Yucatán, Campeche and Quintana Roo, the Petén Department of Guatemala, and all of Belize. Parts of the Mexican states of Tabasco and Chiapas are also included in the northern lowlands. HP Compaq 364602-001 Battery
There is some dispute[who?] about when this era of Maya civilization began. Discoveries of Maya occupation at Cuello, Belize have been carbon dated to around 2600 BC.This level of occupation included monumental structures. The Maya calendar, which is based around the so-called Mesoamerican Long Count calendar, begins on a date equivalent to 11 August 3114 BC. HP Compaq 365750-001 Battery
However the most widely accepted view, as of 2010, is that the first clearly Maya settlements were established around 1800 BC in the Soconusco region of the Pacific Coast. This period, known as the Early Preclassic, was characterized by sedentary communities and the introduction of pottery and firedclay figurines. HP Compaq 365750-003 Battery
Important sites in the southern Maya lowlands include Nakbe, El Mirador, Cival, and San Bartolo. In the Guatemalan Highlands Kaminaljuyu emerged around 800 BC. For many centuries it controlled the jade and obsidian sources for the Petén and Pacific Lowlands. The important early sites of Izapa, Takalik Abaj, and Chocoláat around 600 BC were the main producers of Cacao. HP Compaq 365750-004 Battery
Mid-sized Maya communities also began to develop in the northern Maya lowlands during the Middle and Late Preclassic, though these lacked the size, scale, and influence of the large centers of the southern lowlands. Two important Preclassic northern sites includeKomchen and Dzibilchaltun. The first written inscription in Maya hieroglyphics also dates to this period (c. 250 BC). HP Compaq 367457-001 Battery
Scholars disagree about the boundaries which differentiate the physical and cultural extent of the early Maya and neighboring Preclassic Mesoamerican civilizations, such as the Olmec culture of the Tabasco lowlands and the Mixe–Zoque- and Zapotec-speaking peoples of Chiapas and southern Oaxaca, respectively. HP Compaq 372771-001 Battery
Many of the earliest significant inscriptions and buildings appeared in this overlapping zone, and evidence suggests that these cultures and the formative Maya influenced one another. Takalik Abaj, in the Pacific slopes of Guatemala, is the only site where Olmec and then Maya features have been found.
Around 100 AD, there was widespread decline and abandonment of Maya cities - called the Preclassic Collapse. This marked the end of the Preclassic era. HP Compaq 372772-001 Battery
The Preclassic Period in Maya history stretches from the first Maya settlements until 250 AD. The major cites of this period were Kaminaljuyu and El Mirador. By the end of the Preclassic, the city state of El Mirador had united the southern Maya lowlands. However, from 100 to 300, this empire began to decline, HP Compaq 381373-001 Battery
and the city was eventually abandoned. It is likely, but by no means certain, that the rulers of El Mirador became the Kan dynasty of Calakmul, where they would regrow to become one of the two dominant powers of the Classic Maya period, along with their rival Tikal. HP Compaq 381374-001 Battery
The roots of Maya civilization remain obscure, but archeology, linguistics, and modern science grant us enough tantalizing clues to allow us to loosely sketch out a broad picture. By 2000BC, speakers of the Mayan Languages had already occupied the southern Maya area. HP Compaq 382553-001 Battery
It appears that around this time the Maya people began to transition from a hunter-gatherer lifestyle to a culture based around agricultural villages. The process appears to have been a gradual one. Analysis of bones from early Maya grave sites indicate that, although maize had already become a major component of the diet (under 30% at Ceullo, Belize) by this time, HP Compaq 383220-001 Battery
fish, meat from game animals, and other hunted or gathered foods still made up a major component of the diet. Along with the gradual development of agriculture, basic forms of pottery began to appear, with simple designs and some slipped vessels. Around this time, the Olmec culture began to emerge in nearby Tabasco, HP Compaq 383510-001 Battery
granting the early Maya an important trading partner and beginning a period of prolonged contact that would have profound effects on Maya society.
By around the year 1000BC, centuries of agricultural village life had begun to form the beginnings of a complex society: Prestige goods such as obsidian mirrorsand jade mosaics began to appear, increasing the demand for more extensive trade. HP Compaq 385843-001 Battery
Canals and irrigation schemes demanding coordinated human effort began to appear with increasing complexity and scale. Gradually, villages began to include central plazas and earthen mounds, occasionally enhanced by masonry. For instance, the site of La Blanca featured a central mound more than seventy-five feet tall and contained a masonry fragment strongly resembling a head in the distinctive Olmec style. HP Compaq 385895-001 Battery
Carved stone stele also began to appear during this period, adorned with portraits of rulers but still devoid of writing. Warfare appears to have intensified during this period, as evidenced by advanced weaponry, rulers beginning to be portrayed as warriors, and the appearance of mass graves and decapitated skeletons. HP Compaq 393549-001 Battery
Beginning around 900BC, the Pacific coastal region fell under the dominance of the La Blanca statelet, which collapsed around 600BC, to be replaced by a polity centered around the El Ujuxte site. Another early statelet was probably based at the site of Chalchuapa, a town with extensive earthen mounds arranged around several plazas. HP Compaq 393652-001 Battery
However, it was likely ruled by the first true Maya city-state, Kaminaljuyu. Lying within modern-day Guatemala City on the shores of Lake Miraflores, Kaminaljuyu developed a powerful government structure that organized massive irrigation campaigns and built numerous intricately carved stone monuments to its rulers. HP Compaq 395790-001 Battery
These monuments clearly depict war captives and often show the rulers holding weapons, indicating the Kaminaljuyu polity engaged in active warfare, dominating the Guatemalan highlands for centuries. Kaminaljuyu's main export was the essential resource obsidian, a beautiful volcanic glass that easily fractured into sharp edges, HP Compaq 395790-003 Battery
providing arrowheads, knives, and other weapons as well as prestige goods like mirrors.
Although it is difficult to firmly identify the ethnicity of a people from meager archeological remains, it appears that during this period the Maya began a systematic northward expansion, occupying the Petén Basin where such cities as El Mirador, HP Compaq 395790-132 Battery
Tikal, Calakmul, and Tayasal would be built. The dominant site of these early colonists was Nakbe in the El Mirador basin, where the first attested Maya ballcourt and sacbeob (stone causeways) were built. The rulers of Nakbe constructed several stone platforms and erected intricately carved stone and stucco monuments. HP Compaq 395790-163 Battery
During this period, the Olmec culture reached its zenith, centered around the capital of La Venta in modern-day Tabasco near the early Maya centers. Speakers of a Mixe–Zoquean language, the Olmec are generally recognized as the first true civilization in the Americas. Their capital city of La Venta contains extensive earthworks and stone monuments, including several of the distinctive Olmec stone heads. HP Compaq 395791-001 Battery
The Olmec share several features with later Maya culture, including extensive jaguar-worship, a diet dominated by maize, and the use of the cacao plant. Several words entered Mayan from a Mixe–Zoquean language, presumably due to Olmec influence. These words include the word ajaw, meaning "lord," and kakaw, which has become the English words "cacao" and "chocolate." HP Compaq 395791-002 Battery
Most of these borrowings relate to prestige concepts and high culture, indicating that the Middle Preclassic Maya were deeply impressed and influenced by their northwestern neighbors.
The Late Preclassic saw the rise of two powerful states that rival later Classic Maya city-states for scale and monumental architecture, Kaminaljuyu in the highlands and El Mirador in the lowlands. HP Compaq 395791-003 Battery
The late or terminal Preclassic murals found in San Bartolo provide important information regarding mythology and royal inauguration ritual around 100 BC.
The story of the mysterious lost civilization that suddenly collapsed for an unknown reason has captured the popular imagination for well over a century. HP Compaq 395791-132 Battery