The Maya have lived in Central America for many centuries. They are one of the many Precolumbian native peoples of Mesoamerica . In the past and today they occupy Guatemala, adjacent portions of Chiapas and Tabasco, the whole of the Yucatan Peninsula, Belize, and the western edges of Honduras and Salvador.
Scholars have suggested a number of potential reasons for the downfall of Maya civilization in the southern lowlands, including overpopulation, environmental degradation, warfare, shifting trade routes and extended drought. It’s likely that a complex combination of factors was behind the collapse.
The Maya today number about six million people, making them the largest single block of indigenous peoples north of Peru. Some of the largest Maya groups are found in Mexico, the most important of these being the Yucatecs (300,000), the Tzotzil (120,000) and the Tzeltal (80,000).
From the late eighth through the end of the ninth century, something unknown happened to shake the Maya civilization to its foundations. One by one, the Classic cities in the southern lowlands were abandoned, and by A.D. 900, Maya civilization in that region had collapsed.
The ancient Maya civilization was formed by members of this group, and today’s Maya are generally descended from people who lived within that historical civilization. Today they inhabit southern Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, El Salvador and Honduras.
Including Maya and other indigenous Latin Americans in the broader Latino ethnicity complies with the concept (both popular and official) that Latino refers to people of Latin American or Hispanic heritage, thus assumed to share certain historical experiences and points of culture regardless of race, ethnicity or
Blood was viewed as a potent source of nourishment for the Maya deities, and the sacrifice of a living creature was a powerful blood offering. By extension, the sacrifice of a human life was the ultimate offering of blood to the gods, and the most important Maya rituals culminated in human sacrifice .
The Yucatec Maya believed that there were different routes after death . The Maya believe that the soul is bound to the body at birth. Only death or sickness can part the body and soul, with death being the permanent parting. To them, there is an afterlife that the soul reaches after death .
Maya priests in the city of Chichen Itza in the Yucatan peninsula sacrificed children to petition the gods for rain and fertile fields by throwing them into sacred sinkhole caves, known as “cenotes.” The caves served as a source of water for the Mayans and were also thought to be an entrance to the underworld.
The Incas , an American Indian people, were originally a small tribe in the southern highlands of Peru. Roads, walls, and irrigation works constructed by the Incas are still in use today. Spanish conquerors captured the Inca emperor in 1532 and began to break up the empire.
The Maya believed that when people died, they entered the Underworld through a cave or a cenote. When kings died, they followed the path linked to the cosmic movement of the sun and fell into the Underworld; but, because they possessed supernatural powers, they were reborn into the Sky World and became gods.
Since Mayan culture formed, dissolved and reformed over many hundreds of years, scholars divide the years into three main time periods: Pre-Classic (2000 B.C. to A.D. 250), Classic (A.D. 250 to 900) and Post-Classic (900 to 1519).