Maya Civilization Timeline
|Evolution of Maya culture|
|Late Preclassic Maya||300 B.C. – A.D. 250|
|Early Classic Maya||A.D. 250-600|
|Late Classic Maya||A.D. 600-900|
|Post Classic Maya||A.D. 900- 1500|
It is believed today that the Mayan peoples began to settle in the Yucatan area of what is now Mexico between 2600 BC and 1800 BC. As the centuries rolled on, their culture and religion developed. What we now call the Mayan empire really came into its own between 250 AD and 900 AD.
Many matured into advanced pre-Columbian Mesoamerican civilizations such as the: Olmec , Izapa, Teotihuacan, Maya, Zapotec , Mixtec , Huastec , Purépecha, Totonac , Toltec , and Aztec, which flourished for nearly 4,000 years before the first contact with Europeans.
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.
Do The Maya Still Exist ? Descendants of the Maya still live in Central America in modern-day Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and parts of Mexico. The majority of them live in Guatemala, which is home to Tikal National Park, the site of the ruins of the ancient city of Tikal.
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.
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 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.
The most likely explanation, Inomata said, is that Mayan culture developed as part of a broader social movement that unfurled across Mesoamerica — a region extending from central Mexico to Central America — between the years 1500 and 800 BC.
Although the Mayan people never entirely disappeared—their descendants still live across Central America—dozens of core urban areas in the lowlands of the Yucatan peninsula, such as Tikal , went from bustling cities to abandoned ruins over the course of roughly a hundred years.
Mesoamerican peoples built pyramids from around 1000 B.C. up until the time of the Spanish conquest in the early 16th century. ( Egyptian pyramids are much older than American ones; the earliest Egyptian pyramid , the Pyramid of Djoser, was built in the 27 century BC).
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).
The Aztecs were conquered by Spain in 1521 after a long siege of the capital, Tenochtitlan, where much of the population died from hunger and smallpox. Cortés, with 508 Spaniards, did not fight alone but with as many as 150,000 or 200,000 allies from Tlaxcala, and eventually other Aztec tributary states.